Every year we wait for the start of the season and crave week one. We take it too literally and forget that it’s one game, only a small sample of the NFL season. We assume that if you won you’re in the playoffs, obviously not mathematically possible, and if you lost then you’ll be vying for the first overall pick.
So what’s the outlook for the Saints and Falcons as preparations start for week two? The Saints head to LA looking to avenge their defeat in the NFC Championship game a year ago while the Falcons host another playoff contender in the Eagles, desperate to get their season up and running.
As far as New Orleans are concerned, they have picked up where they left off last year. The most important part of week one is to pick up the win but I’m sure Sean Payton will be glad to have been tested early, especially ahead of a crucial matchup against the Rams. This ultimately could affect seeding in the NFC playoffs.
They weren’t flashy and the offence was on form but the defence has not hit the form of last year, even if they did get six sacks. They allowed the Texans to run for 180 yards, well over double the average that they allowed a year ago. Part of that will be facing a running QB in Desean Watson but it can’t be in the Saints’ plans to need to put up 500 yards of offence and 30 points to win every week. Based on Drew Brees’ performances down the stretch last year, that isn’t a formula that will work.
One to Watch – Alex Anzalone
He’ll be sharing snaps with Kiko Alonso but don’t sleep on Anzalone as the centre of the Saints defence. He started the season with five tackles and a sack.
Where to start with the Falcons? They spend all offseason trying to gain control over the line of scrimmage and struggled on both sides of the ball. They ran for just 73 yards, with Devonta Freeman in particular struggling.
Had Atlanta gone on the road to Minnesota and lost to another playoff contender it would be one thing. But they were manhandled and shut out until the fourth quarter when they were four scores down. They struggled to run the ball, took four sacks and saw their first round pick lineman carted off the field.
What’s worse, on defence they allowed 170 yards rushing, despite paying Grady Jarrett and new signing Tyeler Davison at DT. It looked as though the pass defence was the big weakness but the Vikings didn’t even test that, throwing only 10 passes.
It’s one game and it’s definitely possible that the Falcons came out cold but now they need to perform against the Eagles. Going 1-1 with a good performance would have been acceptable to start the season with two tough matchups. Had they won last week they would just need a performance to start the season right at home. Now they need to win and prove everyone wrong – they are a playoff contender.
One to watch – Foye Oluokun
Oluokun had a great debut year with 90 tackles and a forced fumble. He’s the backup to De’Vondre Campbell at SLB and started the season with another four tackles. Talented players like Oluokun are the reason the Falcons didn’t feel the need to focus on the defence in the draft.
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