Falcons secondary to be tested by Saints

The Falcons must force turnovers this Sunday when they play in New Orleans.

The Falcons secondary has been picked on all season, and rightfully so. Atlanta continues to have the worst pass defense in the NFL. It has allowed 292.5 yards per game.

Sunday the Falcons will be tested by the New Orleans Saints, who have the third-best passing offense in the league. Of course, Drew Brees is the reason for that. He is third in the NFL with 4,358 passing yards.

Atlanta’s issues are serious, particularly with corner Robert Alford out for the rest of the season following wrist surgery. Safety William Moore is a question mark after hurting his ankle in last week’s game against Pittsburgh.

Robert McClain has started the last four games for Alford. McClain was the nickelback earlier this season. McClain made an outstanding play last week against Pittsburgh when he saved a touchdown, knocking away a pass to Martavis Bryant.

McClain’s one interception this season came against the Saints in week one.

New Orleans has very good receivers, led by tight end Jimmy Graham (782 yards). McClain may also have to deal with Kenny Stills (781 yards), Marques Colston (771 yards) or rookie Brandon Cooks (550 yards).

With Desmond Trufant being Atlanta’s best cornerback, teams will try to pick on McClain. The same can be said of Kemal Ishmael, who would likely start at strong safety if Moore is unable to play. Ishmael leads the Falcons with three interceptions, but he’s also been burned numerous times on long pass plays. He’s second on the team with 87 tackles.

The Falcons may get some help from safety rookie Dez Southward, who has played more in recent weeks.

Of course, the best thing that could help the secondary would be a pass rush on Brees, who is very elusive. It would mean Kroy Biermann cannot afford to miss the quarterback as he has the last two weeks. Biermann had Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger right in front of him on plays but missed. The Falcons must have a better rush against Brees if they are to win on Sunday.

Atlanta is last in the NFL with 16 sacks.

When the Panthers blew the Saints out in New Orleans two weeks ago, Brees did not have a good day. He was 29-49 for only 235 passing yards. Brees was sacked only twice. Turnovers were a big problem, as the Saints had two early on in the game that set the pace.

Of course, the Saints rebounded well Monday night in the win over the Bears. Brees was 29-for-36 with 375 yards and three touchdowns. If he has that sort of performance Sunday against Atlanta, the Saints will be NFC South champions.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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