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John DeShazier: Key ingredients for a Saints victory presented by Domino's

Applying pressure on Matt Ryan important

The top 150 New Orleans Saints game photos of 2015. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)

  1. In the first meeting this season between the two teams, when Atlanta entered 5-0, the New Orleans Saints sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan five times, three by Cam Jordan. Good coverage in the secondary forced Ryan to hold the ball longer than he wanted to, and the pass rush got to him to nullify what otherwise was a solid passing game (30 of 44 for 295 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions). Jordan and Co. won't likely sack Ryan another five times, but they have to unsettle him again with pressures in order to help the secondary contain Falcons receiver Julio Jones, who leads the league in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,722).
  1. When New Orleans goes man-to-man against Jones, Delvin Breaux most likely will have the duty. Breaux has been better than anyone could've imagined he would be this season, and he had a big hand in helping contain Jones in the first game. Jones will want to show that that performance (six catches, 93 yards) was an aberration while he seeks his third consecutive 100-yard receiving day.
  1. The Saints were as balanced offensively against Jacksonville as they have been at any point this season, with Drew Brees (25 of 36 for 412 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception) and Tim Hightower (27 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns) leading the way. They'll need that kind of balance again, especially on the road. The longer the Saints can keep possession, the fewer chances Atlanta's offense will have. We know the Saints are going to throw pretty often, and hopefully receiver Willie Snead (949 receiving yards) will join Brandin Cooks in the 1,000-yard club. But Hightower has been critical in the Saints' last two victories (28 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay), and he likely will have a big hand in it if the Saints win at the Georgia Dome. 
  1. New Orleans showed it hasn't checked out on the season last Sunday in a 38-27 victory over Jacksonville. A win against Atlanta, its NFC South Division rival, would send the Saints into the offseason with two straight wins. It's a modest goal, but it's one that the Saints hope to attain. Players haven't been flat emotionally and with the playoffs out of the picture, the next best thing will be to beat a rival in the season finale.
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