5 Reasons The Saints Will Win/Lose On Sunday
The New Orleans Saints return to action on Sunday, and it’s time to take a look at five reasons why they will win, and five reasons why they will lose.
The Saints, who are currently 7-8 on the year, will travel to Atlanta, Georgia to take on the Atlanta Falcons in a the 2016 regular season finale for both teams.
Kickoff time is scheduled for 3:25 pm.
The Saints have been eliminated from playoff contention, while the Falcons have clinched the NFC South title.
5 Reasons The Saints Will Win:
1)—Drew Brees: Brees leads the NFL in passing yards-per-game, averaging 324.0, and is coming off a game against the Arizona Cardinals in which he threw for 299 yards and one touchdown. Brees, who is having his best season since 2013, needs 142 passing yards to reach 5,000 passing yards in a season for the fifth time in his career, and for the first time since 2013. The Saints lost the first meeting to the Falcons, but Brees was outstanding, throwing for 376 yards and three touchdowns. He should have anther good day, and give the Saints at least an opportunity to win.
2)—Cameron Jordan: He should have been named to the Pro Bowl a couple of weeks ago. Jordan ranks in the top five in the NFL lead with 17 tackles for loss and ranks in the top 10 with 23 quarterback hits, to go along with five batted passes. His problem is he only has 7.5 sacks. Still, his versatility is to his detriment. Jordan is a greatly underrated/underappreciated player. The Saints need to put pressure on Matt Ryan, and heir best bet to do that is Jordan. Look for Jordan to be his normally reliable self.
3)—Saints Have A .500 Season On The Line: The Saints are 7-8, and would love to avoid their third-consecutive losing season. The Falcons, on the other hand, have already clinched the NFC South, but will be playing for a possible first round bye in the playoffs. I think the Saints are better than they have been, over the past two years, but from a perception standpoint, 8-8 looks a whole lot better than 7-9. If they win, many will say they did improve. If they lose, and finish at 7-9 again, many will say they're just running in place.
4)—Third Down Efficiency: New Orleans is tops in the league, converting on 49.0 of their third down conversions. Atlanta, as good as they are, offensively, only ranks 13th, converting 41.3 of their third down attempts. The Saints went 7-of-13 on third down attempts in the first meeting back in September, and they're a pretty good bet to do well again. The Saints have been really good all year, in terms of keeping drives going, and I them to be good again on Sunday.
5)—Coby Fleener: He had his best game of the season in the first meeting against the Falcons, catching 7 passes for 109 yards, both season-highs. Fleener matches up pretty well with the Atlanta defense, and could have another big day on Sunday.
5 Reason the Saints Won’t Win:
1)—Matt Ryan: He made the Pro Bowl this year, and with good reason, throwing for 4.613 yards and34 touchdowns. Ryan was very good in the first meeting, completing 20-of-30 passes for 240 yards, to go along with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He'll also be going up against a depleted New Orleans secondary that without the services of safety Kenny Vaccaro and cornerback P.J. Williams, and will likely be without cornerback Delvin Breaux, who has been hobbled all year. If Ryan plays well, something he’s done a lot of this year, the Falcons have a good chance at winning.
2)—Chances Are The Game Will Come Down To One Score: Okay, New Orleans has played 15 games so far this season, and 11 have been decided by 7 points or less. The Saints are good enough to hang in there with almost anybody, but not good enough to blow out most teams. Meanwhile, 7 of the 15 games that the Falcons have played this season has been decided by a touchdown or less. Chances are, this game is going to be decided by 7 points, or less, and that makes it anybody’s ballgame.
3)—Devonta Freeman & Tevin Coleman: These two killed the Saints in the first meeting, rushing for a combined 194 yards and three touchdowns. Just as important however, they also combined for 8 catches for 102 yards and a score. They can both run the football, but they can also catch it, and either one on a Saints' safety or linebacker could spell bad news. The Saints simply have to control these two guys better than they did the first time around.
4)—Julio Jones: The Saints held Jones to only one catch for 16 yards in the first meeting, but don't expect that to happen again. New Orleans, as mentioned before, has a depleted secondary, and Jones is an elite receiver, compiling 76 caches for 1,313 yards and five touchdowns. Jones is a match-up nightmare for anybody, including the Saints, and may be primed for a big game on Sunday.
5)—Special Teams: This one isn’t hard to figure out; the Saints rank 31st (16.5) in terms of yards-per-kickoff return, while allowing the 11th-most in the league (22.8). The Saints have been bad on special teams all year, and have arguably lost three games this season. Sunday’s game will like be close, and special teams could be the difference. If it is, the Saints could be in trouble.