Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Preview

If last week was any indicator, Thursday night's game could get ugly.(Will Vragovic)

If last week serves as any indication, Thursday night’s game could get ugly. (Will Vragovic)

The Atlanta Falcons, who earned the number one seed in the NFC last season with a 13-3 record, are struggling mightily. They have lost four straight, and have dropped seven out of their last eight games.

With a 2-8 record, the Falcons are dead last in the NFC South.

And here come Atlanta’s biggest divisonal rival in the New Orleans Saints with a chance to exact more misery upon the hapless Falcons.

The Saints (8-2) were victorious in the Week 1 matchup by a score of 23-17, but that was back when the Falcons had the Super Bowl aspirations and were tagged as one of the top teams coming out of the NFC.

It was also when the Falcons were a lot healthier.

While the Falcons are coming off a blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints are riding high after defeating the San Francisco 49ers.

If there’s anything that could work to Atlanta’s advantage in this matchup, it’s the fact the New Orleans will be just a few days removed from a tough game and have to go on the road on a short week.

With that said, the Saints have had the Falcons’ number: Over the past 15 games, New Orleans emerged victorious in 12.

When the two teams last met in Atlanta, Drew Brees was intercepted five times and threw zero touchdowns – the first time the quarterback failed to toss a touchdown in 54 straight games.

Another advantage the Falcons have is having the at home Matt Ryan: On the season, Ryan has thrown 10 touchdowns to just one interception with a 71.6 completion percentage at home. Compare that to the eight touchdowns to 11 interceptions with a 60.5 completion percentage on the road.

Despite a couple of advantages that work in the Falcons’ favor, it ultimately comes down to New Orleans just being a better (and healthier) team than Atlanta. If the Bucs were able to do what they did to the Falcons last week, then this matchup has the potential to be that much worse.

Ryan will likely play well, but the Falcons have a poor defense that Brees will feast upon. The Falcons’ losing streak will continue.

Numbers Comparison

Atlanta Falcons:

Points Scored: 21.4 (22nd)
Total Offense: 347.5 (14th)
Passing Offense: 274.4 (6th)
Rushing Offense: 73.1 (31st)

Points Allowed: 29.2 (29th)
Total Defense: 381.9 (26th)
Passing Defense: 249.2 (22nd)
Rushing Defense: 130.7 (30th)

New Orleans Saints:

Points Scored: 28.8 (2nd)
Total Offense: 419.1 (2nd)
Passing Offense: 321.9 (2nd)
Rushing Offense: 97.2 (23rd)

Points Allowed: 18.3 (5th)
Total Defense: 305.4 (4th)
Passing Defense: 191.4 (3rd)
Rushing Defense: 114.0 (17th)

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