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Saints Face Next Test With Unexpected Opponents

The Saints have come to life since Drew Brees went down. Now though they face the surprise package in the NFC South, who thumped the Rams on the road last week.

Buccaneers @ Saints – 6:00

The Saints have been solid since losing Brees. No one individual has starred and they don’t stand out on the stats, but they have beaten the Seahawks and Cowboys. Now the best run defence is coming to town.

That’s notable; if they can slow down Alvin Kamara, will Teddy Bridgewater be able to step up? He should be able to as the Bucs have allowed the most passing yards outside of Miami. That should allow Michael Thomas and Jared Cook the freedom to perform. If the Saints passing game struggles, it may be time to look toward Taysom Hill.

Will Jameis protect the ball?

This is arguably the biggest test for the Saints defence since Brees went down, though they were impressive against the Dallas. The Bucs have scored 31 points a game, fourth in the NFL, aided by 55 last week.

The Bucs have had only six turnovers this season as Jameis Winston has cleaned up his game. If he can keep the offence on the field, and scoring, will the Saints be able to keep up?

One thing the Saints will look to target is success on third down. The Bucs have only converted 38%, (19th), while the Saints are middle of the pack on 3rd down defence. They’ll need to get Winston and co off the field or tiredness could become a factor.

This could be a far more competitive game than it looked before week one.

Verdict: Saints 23, Buccaneers 20

Falcons @ Texans – 6:00

Atlanta appear to have been found out. Try as they might, they just can’t get everything together despite a talented offence. Dan Quinn desperately needs a win to resurrect the season and take the heat off as the defence struggles to make key stops.

The Falcons had an impressive win against the Eagles but have been comprehensively beaten in two of their three defeats, and were being heavily beaten by the Colts in the third defeat before their comeback fell just short.

The Falcons are facing a middle of the road defence. The Texans have 13 sacks, losing their edge with Jadeveon Clowney in Seattle. Houston are 19th against the pass and 16th against the run. With an average defence, this will be an interesting test to see how Matt Ryan – fourth in passing yards, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman are fairing. That, and if the improved offensive line is up to the task, having already allowed 10 so far this year.

Will Texans offence spark into life?

The Texans haven’t set the world alight on offence. They have the 12th best rushing attack, which will test Grady Jarrett and co, allowing 110 yards a game. Where the Falcons will look to keep the score down is limiting the Texans’ passing attack. The Texans have been far from impressive by the numbers, with fifth fewest passing yards, while the Falcons have allowed seventh fewest yards through the air, despite a lack of star talent. Admittedly this is partly helped by the Vikings 98 passing yards, in a win, in week one.

Ultimately though, something isn’t clicking for the Falcons. It’s hard to trust them winning on the road.

Verdict: Texans 24, Falcons 20

Photo: Scott Threlkeld / NOLA.com

Article written by:

I'm a fan of all sorts of sports, from football to football to Formula One, with a little rugby in between. I've been a Ravens fan for nearing two decades having grown up in Baltimore and now enjoy writing about the ultra-competitive NFC South.

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