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  1. Read the rest here: http://isportsweb.com/2012/01/23/2013-belongs-to-the-saints-and-new-orleans/
  2. Read the rest: http://isportsweb.com/2012/01/05/wild-card-weekend-game-preview-lions-at-new-orleans-saints/
  3. Read the rest here: http://isportsweb.com/2012/01/03/new-orleans-saints-opponents-for-the-2012-season/
  4. Read the rest here: http://isportsweb.com/2011/12/18/new-orleans-saints-week-15-recap-breesd-beat-vikes-soundly/
  5. Read the rest here: http://isportsweb.com/2011/12/05/new-orleans-saints-week-13-recap-lions-implode-saints-march-on/
  6. Read the rest here: http://isportsweb.com/2011/11/29/orleans-saints-week-12-recap-saints-dominate-over-giants/
  7. Read the rest here: http://isportsweb.com/2011/11/26/orleans-saints-week-12-pregame-giants-saints-preview/
  8. Hey all I know it's been a while since I posted a H2H preview of a game, but because this is a special case and a rivarly game I'll be doing a full H2H preview of the game and the Key Matchups. Let's get started! Atlanta's OLine V. New Orleans' DLine We'll start out in the trenches specifically Atlanta's Oline versus New Orleans' DLine. If you would have asked me two weeks ago what my worst fear about this matchup was I would have pointed at Sam Baker and Garret Reynolds, however niether of those guys are starters, instead they have been replaced by Will Svitek and Joe Hawley, and let me tell you it's a light and day difference in time on pass plays, matt has a much more secure pocket and has been able to step into more throws and read through all his options. Svitek in particular has performed well since being inserted into the starting lineup, he has yet to give up a sack after facing Detriot's Kyle VandenBosch and Indy's Dwight Freeney. He'll be facing a good pash rusher this week in New Orlean's Will Smith, Smith who posted 13 sacks in the Saints superbowl year has yet to find the same success pthat he had that year. So far he only has 4.5 sacks through 2011. Svitek is a capable tackle as proven in the two previous games and should be able to handle Will Smith. The biggest concern on Atlanta's Oline would be Jow Hawley, who came into the year as the back-up Center, he has now been converted to the RG position. He's a mediocre run blocker to say the least, however he is upgrade from Garret Reynolds in pass protection, in his first start last week he gave up only one sack, where he missed a blitz assignment. This is to be expected though as he has little expierence at the position. I expect New Olreans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to take full advantage of this and send as many blitzes at Hawley's side of the line as possible. However this could work to Atlanta's favor as it leaves holes in the middle of the field that Matt Ryan can find with targets like Tony Gonzalez, Jason Snelling, Michael Palmer, Harry Douglas, and JacQuizz Rodgers. Hawley will likely be matched up against Sedrick Ellis on passing downs and Shaun Rodgers on running downs. Ellis has the same problems as Hawley, he's a great pass rusher, but more times than not gets washed away in the run game. This matchup could prove as an advantage to Atlanta as with the recent injury to CB Tracy Porter, and New Orleans lack of talent at the LB (OLB especially) the Saints may not have the depth to cover all of Atlanta's weapons. Atlanta's Backfield V. New Orleans Linebackers. Atlanta's backfield usually consists of Matt Ryan, Ovie Mughelli, and either Michael Turner, Jason Snelling, or JacQuizz Rodgers. However Mughelli suffered a season ending knee injury against Detroit. Atlanta is now using a rotation of Jason Snelling and Mike Cox at FB. Atlanta's FB plays a huge role in their power running game and the lack of a top tier fullback like Mughelli at the helm of the running game, Atlanta could have trouble moving the ball on the ground due to New Orleans' MLB Johnathan Vilma. However Vilma has been having a down year that has been highlighted by multiple injuries, he's having trouble shedding blocks and getting to the ball carrier. Next to him is LB Scott Shanle, Shanle is a very good run stopper, but a poor pass defender. Johnathan Casillas the other OLB could be considered the best of the group this year, he has shown adeptness at pass defense, run defense, and pass rushing. Atlanta should keep an eye for him on all downs. New Olreans also has one of the better run stuffing fronts in the leauge, including their heavy set which employs 2 310+ DTs in Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rodgers. Turner won't have much daylight on 3rd and shorts, but should have sucess running at the right side of the line on 1st and 2nd where DT Sedrick Ellis has trouble. After that he'll have a lot of room to work, as Vilma as previously stated has struggled getting off blocks, and while Shanle is a good tackler he doesn't have the best athletcism for an OLB. After that Roman Harper is the only sure bet to make the tackle, as the rest of New Orleans' secondary has troubly with wrapping up the ball carrier and will undoubtley struggle in trying to tackle Turner. Getting Turner to the 2nd level will be key for Atlanta. The other proponent in the backfield is Atlanta's new third down back JacQuizz Rodgers, Rodgers is a tough and shifty runner. He actually is very similar to New Orleans' Darren Sproles, however he is much more physical and tough runner when he gets into the 2nd and 3rd levels and has proven he can run between the tackles. Rodgers hasr the speed to out run Shanle on the outside, and the power and shiftyness to get by New Orleans' DBs. He will also be a key in the passing game as he presents a mismatch to any New Orleans' LB he is matched up on except for Casillas. Expect to see Rodgers utilized quite a bit in this game as his change of pace and toughness will be a great compliment to Turner's brute force. Atlanta's WRs/TEs V. New Orleans' DBs Here is possibly the biggest matchup on this side of the ball. To put it blankly New Orlean's DBs aren't healthy. Tracy Porter (Hope he's fine never like to see stuff like that happen) was carted off and immobilized during the last game and is more than likely out for this one, his backup and nickel corner Patrick Robinson was also listed as out for Wensday's practice. if niether are healthy and a go for sunday, New Orleans' could be looking at the possibility of having to go with the CB trio of Greer, Patrick, and Torrence. Julio Jones, and Roddy White would have a field day on that DB. Another big problem for the Saints is S Roman Harper, Harper is a great run stuffer and pass rusher from his spot, but to put it simply he can not cover well at all. Atlanta will look to try and get WRs Eric Weems or Harry Douglas matched up on Harper, as it would be an obvious mismatch. Harper is also very likely to fall for a PA play, which he has numerous times in the past, if Atlanta's O can get the ground game going, New Orleans' Secondary could be in for a long day. Matt Ryan V. Gregg Williams Here is another key matchup, Matt Ryan will not only be going against players, but also a coach. Ryan who has been using the no huddle offense more frequently where he calls the plays and makes the adjustments, will have to go against blitz happy DC Gregg Williams. Williams is one of the best at disguising his blitz packages, however his Dline hasn't been very productive this year and so far rookie DE Cameron Jordan has had no success getting to the passer and niether has Sedrick Ellis. Williams has tryed to attone for this by blitzing his LBs and Roman Harper more often, however this is leaving guys like Scott Shanle out on an island in pass defense. If Matt can recognize the blitz and make the adjustments he could have a field day against New Orleans. Atlanta's DLine V. New Orleans OLine Atlanta's DLine will have to bring the heat this sunday when facing a top 5 QB like Drew Brees. We'll focus on the first key matchup. John Abraham against Jermon Bushrod, Bushrod is a decent tackle but he's nothing special. Abraham is having a bit of a down year and hasn't exactly been getting the same type of production as you would like to see. However Abe should have little problems with Bushrod, Bushrod just simply won't be able to handle Abraham for the whole game. When you look at Abe even in his down years he's still dominant at the line, he's always picking up good pressure he's just not closing it out. Take 2009 for examply, Abe only had 5.5 Sacks, but he embarrased Jake Long twice against Miami. Look for Abe to bring pressure on Brees like usual. The other Key matchup here is Corey Peters going against Jahri Evans. Peters is having himself a breakout year, having recorded 3 sacks so far and has been a big help in the run game. Evans once considered the top G in the game has fallen swiftly from the ranks of the elite. Evans has commited the most holding penalties of any Olineman over the past two years, and has been having more trouble with top level DTs. While Peters isn't exactly a top 10 DT he's certainly having a season like one. Evans will have his hands full to say the least with Peters. This creates a problem for New Orleans, with Evans having to take on a emergent Peters and Nicks having to take on Johnathan Babineaux, this will leaving the 2 tackling machines known as Sean Weatherspoon and Curtis Lofton free to go make plays on the ball carrier. The biggest key for the Dline will be recognizing the screen play, Peters and Abe in particular have shown an adeptness as to sniffing out a screen play, but Atlanta has been caught red handed several times on screen plays, it will be important for the Dline to read and recognize a screen. If they can do this and generate good pressure New Orleans will have problems getting their passing game going. Atlanta's LBs v New Orleans Backfield New Orleans like Atlanta uses a wide array of backs in their backfield, the main 3 being Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Darren Sproles. However their FB Jed Collins has been doing a great job this year. However New Orleans hasn't exactly been running it 25+ times every game. So he'll have his fair share of the cake in trying to block Sean Weatherspoon or Curtis Lofton, both of whom shed their blocks easily and make plays on the ball carrier. New Orleans' main back Pierre Thomas is a tough runner with good balance and is dangerous on screens. Ingram is more of their short yardage back and gets the majority of the Short-Mid carries along with the majority of the goal line carries. Darren Sproles their 3rd down back is a glass cannon. He's a very quick and shifty guy. Someone Atlanta will have to keep an eye on, My guess is that Sean Weatherspoon will be assigned to him. Spoon has improved greatly from last year. Most people see his high amount of tackles, but don't recognize that Weatherspoon has dropped his Opposing QB completion % to 68% from nearly 99% last year. I don't expect him to shut Sproles down for good, but I do expect him to play good coverage and make the tackle when Sproles does get the ball in his vicinty. Keeping Sproles under wrap is the 2nd Key for Atlanta's D. Atlanta's DBs + Stephen Nicholas V. New Orleans' WRs and TEs Stephen Nicholas is not a DB, with that said he does look like one when he is in coverage. Nicholas can constantly blanket any RB or TE sent his way, and BVG has trusted him enough at times to leave him on an island with a slot WR when he blitzes. Let me put it this way, when GB came to town the big question was how does Atlanta stop Finley, when Nicholas was on Finley he was hardly ever open long enough for Rodgers to get him the ball. Jimmy Graham is a star in the making for New Orleans, and much like Finley he is Big and Fast, the only difference is he has way better hand than Finley. Finley and GB made their killing by running Finley across the middle into Curtis Lofton's zone. Atlanta really didn't dial up a whole lot of blitzes against GB other than the occasional slot CB blitz and an OLB blitz. Last year against New Orleans' BVG threw the bus at Brees, mixing up his schemes and disguising his blitzes, he also implemented a whole lot more man coverage than zone. I would expect to see the same this year. Nicholas will more than likely be the man responsible for Graham, and I couldn't ask for a better guy to match up on him. Nicolas is a proven coverage backer and the one guy that I have confidence in that can cover Graham. Now on the other hand we have arguably a top 10 corner in Brent Grimes. Grimes doesn't give his counterparts anything, the lone play he was beat on long was against Seattle's Sidney Rice. even though Calvin Johnson had 5 catches for 115 yards when he faced Atlanta, when he was matched up on Grimes (About 72% of the game) Grimes had 3 PDs, and only allowed 2 catches for 10 yards against Megatron. Colston is big, but he is in no way Megatron. Grimes should have no problem covering any of New Orleans' WRs. The other key DB here is Kelvin Hayden. Hayden came in and took the slot corner position from Chris Owens, and since than has done a excellent job. He will more than likely get either Robert Meachem or Lance Moore. With the way he's been playing he sould be able to cover either one. For the first time in a long time, I can say that I like Atlanta's DB going against New Orleans' WR corp. Drew Brees V. Brian Van Gorder Drew Brees is an elite QB, there's no arguing that he makes the throws, the reads, and has the moxy to be a great leader. He always puts up a good game no matter what and he'll always be a problem for Defensive Coordinators until he's old or retires. With that said, BVG let it all loose on Brees last year, and Brees was constantly scrambling for his life, and if Brian Williams acctually knew how to wrap up he might've been sacked about 7 times that game. To put it simple, Brees' flaw is pressure, he does not perform at this elite level under heavy bombardment, he starts making haste and irrational decisions and often stops protecting the ball. BVG will have to dial up the heat to keep Brees from getting hot. To put it blatantly he'll have to fight fire with fire. Ty for reading
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