Monday night’s game features a rivalry matchup between two NFC South teams aiming to supplant the Panthers as the best in the division. The New Orleans Saints enter this one at 0-2 following heartbreaking losses to the Raiders and Giants in the final minutes. The Falcons, on the other hand, topped the Raiders in a shootout last week, but looked overmatched by the Buccaneers in Week 1.
This game figures to be a shootout between Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, the latter of whom surprisingly leads the NFL in passing yards per game (365). The Saints will be without two of their top cornerbacks, but as is the case with just about every game featuring Brees, they’ll put up points in bunches and force the Falcons to keep pace.
Here are three reasons the Saints will top the Falcons in this high-scoring affair on Monday night.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
Drew Brees is still elite
Throughout his career, Drew Brees has defied odds with his small stature and supposedly waning arm strength. Now, he’s battling Father Time, and winning. The 37-year-old quarterback is still playing at an incredibly high level, and you just have to take a gander at his numbers this season to realize that. He’s completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 686 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating is 109.9, and while it’s still early in the season, Brees could be on track for a stellar season. And with Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead dominating at receiver, his weapons are certainly helping the cause.
The Falcons will have a hard time stopping Brees on Monday night, given that they have allowed the ninth-most passing yards per game up to this point. Atlanta catches a break with Snead out for tonight's game, but that only opens up a spot for Michael Thomas to see more reps. As good as Desmond Trufant is, he won't be able to cover both at the same time. Robert Alford will be tasked with limiting one of them, which will be a tough assignment. Brees will throw for 300-plus yards and a pair of touchdowns in what figures to be a shootout.
The Saints have arguably the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The noise from the crowd compounded by the excitement surrounding each and every game is unmatched in the NFL, and the Saints have always taken advantage of it. Brees, in particular, has been great at home throughout his career. He’s thrown 254 touchdown passes to just 99 interceptions at home, compared to 179 touchdowns and 106 interceptions on the road. And against the Falcons in his career, Brees is 15-6 with 38 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
Brees is a player who shines in prime time, especially at the Superdome. In prime-time games at home, Brees is 18-5. Matt Ryan, on the other hand, is 0-3 on Monday night against the Saints. This game sets up perfectly for Brees and the Saints to come away with a win, and that’s what I’d expect them to do.
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The Falcons have the worst pass rush in the NFL
One fact that isn’t necessarily up for debate in the NFL is the Falcons’ lowly pass rush. I’ll amend that: non-existent pass rush. The Falcons have managed just one sack in their first two games, which is tied for the worst in the NFL. Vic Beasley has been a bust thus far and Dwight Freeney has had almost no impact in Atlanta. Their lack of pressure will show up against the Saints on Monday night, and not in a good way. Brees is going to have all day to throw, which will open up the passing game greatly, particularly on downfield throws.
Deep passes take a while to develop, and without defenders coming at Brees, that will be possible. Brandin Cooks will have the chance to show off his speed by running by Atlanta’s corners. Big plays will be the difference in this game, and I’d expect Brees to make a handful of them against the Falcons. If Atlanta can’t find a way to make Brees wary of the rush in the pocket, he’s going to sit back and pick apart the Falcons’ secondary.