Yes, the Falcons are ready to play the enemy, the Saints for the first time this season as they play the Thursday night game in New Orleans. The Falcons (5-0) should beat the Saints (1-4), at least with what we know on paper about these two teams.
The Falcons have had a great start to the season. They are running the football again, with the 9th best rushing team in the NFL. They are also stopping the run, with the best run defense in football. They are doing the things that gave them a great run between 2008 and 2012.
The Saints are struggling. Drew Brees is not completely healthy. He’s struggled this season and is perhaps starting to look his age. He’s still dangerous, but it has not been easy for him this season with a shoulder injury.
New head coach Dan Quinn has a new coaching staff and a new group of players that have never experienced this rivalry before. The returning players that know all about the hatred that exists between these two franchise, and more importantly these two fan bases, have shared what to expect with the new guys in the locker room.
Atlanta should win this football game. But it’s a rivalry, so that matters. It actually gives New Orleans more of a chance than most would believe they would have. Their crazy fans will be going crazy once they see the Falcons run onto the field.
IF the Falcons do what they’ve done to win – mostly run the football – they should win this game. Devonta Freeman has been outstanding the last few weeks, and if he continues to have success against this New Orleans defense the Falcons will have a great chance to win.
Matt Ryan must continue to be protected by his improved offensive line, and obviously the OL has been a huge key to Atlanta’s undefeated start. And, of course, with every game, you have to wonder who will be able to stop Julio Jones.
So it should be what these Falcons – Saints games always are – great. It will be a great game. Count on it!
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 e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.