Well, I'm fairly pleased with myself and how I chose to re-surface on these pages with a pre-game writeup that in fact came true. Hooray for me!!! Unfortunately, that means the Falcons also lost to the vaunted Saints in a game that looked attainable.
If you will recall, I predicted a final score of 31-24 for New Orleans, meaning an 8-point spread, despite Vegas lines calling for the Saints by 12.5 points. While I didn't get the exact score, I did in fact get the right number of points, as New Orleans won the game 35-27.
The gameplan went pretty much as expected for Atlanta. Michael Turner was a big factor, rushing for 151 yards and a touchdown. Matt Ryan got the ball to Roddy White four times, allowing the star receiver to put up 108 yards and a score. Tony Gonzalez was thrown to 6 times for 89 yards, which is impressive for a tight end. Ryan managed to put up 289 yards through the air, which would have been great had he not thrown 3 interceptions on ill-advised throws. Finally, the defence was aggressive in both pass-pressure and going after the ball. All these ingredients would come together for a sure win against almost any team not named the Saints.
It is definitely worrisome that the Falcons are turning the ball over as much as they have been lately, but my feeling is that the team's mentality is such that they would rather turn the ball over attempting key plays than sit on their hands and be ultra-conservative in their play-calliing. It's a risk/reward kind of attitude that I really like.
The turning point in the game, in my opinion, was when Michael Jenkins had the ball in his hands on a 3rd and long play, but dropped it, thus ending the drive. On their next possession, the Saints made good and put up 7 more points. Realistically, had Jenkins managed to hold on to the ball, Atlanta would likely have put up at least a field goal (although Jason Elam was uncharacteristically inaccurate on the day), if not a touchdown. But, that's revisionist history.
Overall, there is a lot of good that came out of this one. I only wish the result could have been different. However, we did learn that the Saints are for real. They are simply the best team in the NFC right now, if not the entire league. They can do it all. They run well, pass well, and defend well. In my books, they are the team to beat. With any luck, Atlanta will do just that in the NFC title game! But, that's still a long way down the road.
Up next, the Falcons host a very beatable opponent in the Washington Redskins. Anything but a victory is unacceptable.
About the Author
Written by Dan Rakusan
A huge Rangers (NHL), Falcons (NFL), PGA Tour and soccer fan, I have been writing semi-professionally for about 7 years now. I try to impart information with some degree of humour, and always have an opinion. PSB is another feather in my cap, and am really proud of the team assembled here, and look forward to the long-term journey PSB is embarking on in terms of establishing itself as the best sports blogging collective on the net! Look for articles such as 4-Play, Rangers blogs and PGA Tour updates, along with my NFL handicapping service!