WEEK THREE-Saints vs. Falcons and Fearless Predictions

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By Scott Balot - SaintsReport Staff Writer





It’s time for the Saints to come marching back home for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The Saints will be bringing plenty of new faces with them and a 2-0 record. Long-time nemesis Michael Vick and the Falcons will look to play the role of the spoiler on national television. Let’s take a look at the Saints/Falcons and the rest of WEEK THREE in the NFL.

PERSERVERANCE

This football team is starting to show some of the characteristics necessary to establish a winning organization. Despite turning the ball over three times on their first three possessions, the Saints did not panic, did not quit, and calmly took the lead by halftime. The Saints did not rest on their laurels once they had the lead, and finished with a 34-27 victory.

Head Coach Sean Payton has done a stellar job instilling discipline into a team that sorely lacked it over the past few years. And it has paid off with two consecutive wins on the road, which is not an easy task in the NFL. Quarterback Drew Brees had a breakout game last week, throwing for 353 yards and two touchdowns. Brees kept his cool after losing two fumbles and throwing an interception in the first quarter.

Running back Deuce McAllister returned to the place where he suffered a season-ending injury last season, and got sweet revenge by running for two touchdowns, including a 23-yard jolt that put the Saints up for good. Rookie Marques Colston continued to write his Cinderella story by catching four passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Bush didn’t light it up running the ball, but contributed heavily in the passing game, leading the team for the second week in a row with eight receptions and over 100 yards in total offense.

STOP THE RUN

Believe it or not, the 2006 defensive version of the Saints have shown they have the capability of stopping the run. Against the Packers, the Saints allowed 63 yards total, 16 of which came on a reverse by wide receiver Donald Driver. The defensive line has gotten a good push in the middle and all three linebackers have shown a propensity to fill the running lanes with authority. In fact, the Saints two leading tacklers are linebackers Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle. Currently, the Saints’ defense is ranked 12th overall in the NFL, seventh overall against the run.

WEEK THREE: Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons rushed for over 300 yards in last week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Running back Warrick Dunn looks quicker than ever, and always has a great game against the Saints. Vick seems to be more comfortable in the Falcons’ offense this season, since they have added some run options specifically for him. Tight end Alge Crumpler is Vick’s primary target and is joined by wide receivers Roddy White, Ashley Lelie, and Michael Jenkins.

Defensively, the Falcons are led by defensive tackle Rod Coleman and cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Former Saint Grady Jackson is also starting for the Falcons. The Falcons obtained defensive end John Abraham from the Jets this off-season, however Abraham suffered a groin injury, and may be questionable for the game on Monday night.

KEY MATCHUPS

Saints O-line vs. Falcons D-line: The Falcons have put together an impressive front four with Jackson, Coleman, Abraham, and Patrick Kerney. This will be a huge test for the young Saints offensive line. If they can’t slow these four guys down, it will be a long night for the Saints.

Saints LB’s vs. Dunn and Vick: The Falcons are averaging an obnoxious 279 yards rushing for the first two games. Both Vick and Dunn always have big games against the Saints. The strength of the Saints’ defense so far has been their run defense. Something has got to give.

Saints’ fans in the Dome: Just in case some of you have forgotten what it’s like to watch a football game live, here are a few friendly reminders:
-When the Saints have the ball, it’s usually better to keep the noise down
-While doing the wave is great fun, it should only be done when the Saints are defense
-The Dome stops selling beer after the end of the third quarter so make sure you are prepared ?

SCOTT’S FEARLESS PREDICTIONS

Line: Falcons favored by 3

What Saints’ fans experience entering the Dome on Monday will be part of history, not just for the NFL, but also for the City of New Orleans. The amount of emotions both happy and sad will be overflowing, and it is an event that will be remembered for years to come. While the event is centered around a football game, Monday night will have a much bigger meaning than blocking and tackling. It will mean a sign of rebirth, a sign of rebuilding, a sign of redemption. While it’s great to be excited about seeing Reggie Bush for the first time carry the ball in the Superdome, the events that took place in and around the Dome a year ago cannot be forgotten.

Former Saint Morten Andersen was signed this week by the Atlanta Falcons to help with field goals. The Saints drafted Andersen, 46, during the Bum Phillips era in 1982. It remains to be seen how effective the veteran kicker will be, but he can’t be any worse than Falcon kicker Michael Koenen, who missed four field goals last week.

Well, this game has all the making to be a Saints/Falcons classic. Both teams are 2-0 and tied for the division lead. Three of the last five games between these two teams have been decided by a field goal. Vick runs for 110 yards and a touchdown, passes for a touchdown, but fumbles twice. Dunn continues to light up the Saints with 140 yards on the ground, including a 60-yard touchdown. Brees throws for 280 yards and three touchdowns, one to Colston, and two to Joe Horn. McAllister and Bush combine for 80 yards rushing. This game comes down to a field goal in the fourth quarter by a well-seasoned veteran. 42-year old John Carney makes a 45-yard field goal at the end of the game to clinch the Saints’ first 3-0 record since 2002, and puts an exclamation mark on the end of a memorable night. Scott says take the Saints and the three points…Saints 27, Falcons 24.

LAST WEEK

Last Week: 10-6 (.625)
Season: 24-8 (.750)
Lock O’ The Week: 1-1 (.500)

LOCK O’ THE WEEK

Eagles -6 over the 49ers-McNabb bounces back and makes a statement.

And now the rest of WEEK THREE in the NFL:

Car -3 over TB-Steve Smith should be back this week
Chi -3 over Min-Bears defense looks to be best in NFC
Cin +2 over Pit-Bengals get revenge for AFC Championship game
GB +6 ½ over Det-Farve bounces back after two forgettable weeks
Jax +7 over Ind-this could be a preview of the AFC Championship game
Buf -5 ½ over NYJ-Bills win home opener
Mia – 10 ½ over Ten-yes, the Titans are that bad
Was -4 over Hou-Gibbs won’t start 0-3
Bal -6 ½ over Cle-Ravens defense on fire
Sea -4 over NYG-this could be a preview of the NFC Championship game
Stl + 4 ½ over Ari-Cards win by a field goal
NE -6 ½ over Den-Cutler will be starting by Holloween
 

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