A few key ingredients for the New Orleans Saints against the Falcons, as New Orleans attempts to break into the win column for the first time this season:
- The Saints need to produce some semblance of an effective running game, and Atlanta just may be the opponent against which to do so. The Saints only averaged 64.5 rushing yards per game in the first two, but the Falcons have allowed 122.5 yards on 4.6 yards per carry. Mark Ingram(21 carries, 88 yards) hasn't had a lot of touches in the run game for New Orleans; this could be the chance for a breakout for him and Terron Armstead.
- Three weeks ago, Sterling Moorewasn't on the Saints' roster and for the season opener against Oakland, he was inactive. Monday night, the sixth-year pro will be the Saints' most experienced, and best, cornerback against an Atlanta receiving corps headlined by Julio Jones. That tells you all that you need to know about the injuries that have beset the Saints' secondary, from Damian Swann'sseason-ending surgery before the season began, to Delvin Breaux'sbroken fibula (he'll return in another month or so) against Oakland, to P.J. Williams'season-ending concussion against the Giants. Fortunately for the Saints, Moore last played for Tampa Bay, so he's familiar with Jones and the Falcons. He held up well in man coverage last week against Odell Beckham Jr. and hopefully, he can share some tidbits of information with his younger, less experienced teammates at cornerback.
- The Saints swept the season series against Atlanta last season, in part because they forced five turnovers (four fumble recoveries and an interception) and sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryansix times, including five times in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans didn't win its first game of the season last Sunday against New York, but it definitely had a winning defensive recipe – three forced turnovers (all fumble recoveries) and two sacks of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Those numbers are difficult to replicate every week, especially against a mobile quarterback with a quick release. But defensive end Cam Jordan(a sack against New York) and his comrades will have to come up with something in order to pressure Ryan and shrink his comfort zone.
- It's always a good thing when the kick coverage teams have operated without much notice. That means, no opponent has popped a long one. The Saints likely will be on higher alert Monday night, though, because Atlanta's Eric Weemshas the potential to flip the field on any return; he's averaging 24 yards on four punt returns (with a long of 73), and 28.3 yards on three kickoff returns (with a long of 34). Saints punter Thomas Morsteadwas phenomenal in terms of hang time and angles against New York, pinning returners on the sideline. He and kicker Wil Lutz(who played at Georgia State University in Atlanta and was born in Newnan, Ga.) need to be effective with their hang time, to give the cover units time to get to Weems and anyone else.
- There will be a wave of emotion on which the Saints can ride Monday night. Basically, it's the 10-year anniversary of the Superdome re-opening, against the same opponent the Saints played when the facility re-opened on Sept. 25, 2006. The crowd will be worked up into a frenzy, so if the Saints can get off to a quick start, they can keep a charge in the sellout crowd. Another blocked punt would be nice (hello, Michael Mauti) but solid, efficient football – sprinkle in a big play or three – should keep the fans interested and extremely loud. Don't downplay how significant several jolts of adrenaline can be.