New Orleans Saints should be wary of 'third-and-long' Atlanta Falcons

Andrus Peat is only Saint declared out of Thursday's game against Falcons; five Saints questionable

Andrus Peat is only Saint declared out of Thursday's game against Falcons; five Saints questionable

Indeed, the defending NFC South champion Falcons are in serious trouble and in danger of being dethroned after falling at home Sunday to the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings 14-9, dropping them two games behind the Saints and into third place in the division.

How serious? The Falcons actually put together a signed letter from Quinn that fans can give to their bosses excusing them for either being late or working from home Friday as a result of the energy they'll expend Thursday night. But if Atlanta United matches can manage to be packed in that stadium, then it's fair to expect the same from the Falcons.

The Atlanta Falcons blowing a 28-3 Super Bowl lead is the gift to Saints fans that will give and give and give and always be awesome unless the Falcons actually win a Super Bowl.

And while the Saints are solidly atop the NFC South after winning nine of their last 10 games and sweeping the season series from the Carolina Panthers, Coach Sean Payton will not allow his team to count its current winnings while sitting at the table.

Thursday night's total is set at 53 points.

Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. No doubt, there is a pretty good chance this game tomorrow will come down to the fourth quarter.

As the regular season comes to an end and playoff implications continue to rise, Atlanta needs a win but the Falcons have a tall task ahead of them. He's also tops in the National Football League with nine rushing touchdowns, all of those coming since the Saints' Week 5 bye (eight games). They were running back Mark Ingram (toe) and guard Andrus Peat (groin). The Falcons already trail the Saints by two games with just four remaining. Besides averaging seven yards per carry and now sitting 17th in rushing, Kamara is averaging slightly more yards per game as a receiver (51.2 vs 50.5).

While the Falcons won't have to worry about Brees picking up big gains with his legs, they will have their hands full trying to slow down Ingram and Kamara, who are basically doing what Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman did for Atlanta's offense last season.

Also, Atlanta's running backs and receivers are a bad matchup for the improved Saints defense. If you asked me to list why I'm a Saints fan, "Watching the Falcons lose." might be #1 on my list.

Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was listed as "limited" on the practice report Tuesday that the Saints submitted to the NFL. He leads the team with four touchdown catches and his 11 total touchdowns are tied with Todd Gurley for the most in the NFL. Los Angeles Rams (9-3), New Orleans (9-3), Seattle (8-4) and Carolina (8-4), suggesting one more misstep down the stretch could doom their playoff chances.

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