New Orleans Saints should be wary of 'third-and-long' Atlanta Falcons

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The Falcons have flashed some glimpses of their high-powered offense from the previous season.

The Atlanta Falcons now find themselves in the mix of teams in the NFC competing for one of the two wild card spots.

The Falcons, who have dealt with several injuries on defense this season, will get cornerback Desmond Trufant back for Thursday's game after he suffered a collision with teammate Keanu Neal in Week 12 against Tampa Bay.

Fair or not, much of the blame, and the burden for these next four games, falls on Matt Ryan (above, right). Ingram and Kamara have combined for 1,872 total yards since week six and 20 touchdowns since Week 3.

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So far, the Falcons are laying 1.5 points in Vegas and at most online outlets, making them the slight favorites. The Saints are 3-3 in Thursday night matchups and 2-1 against the Falcons, with both of their victories against Atlanta coming inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But New Orleans was pleased to see Hill participating in Sunday's game as he took on a new role on special teams and made two tackles.

The Saints' defensive backfield especially could have benefitted from some extra downtime.

METAIRIE, La. - Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore has been a breakout sensation for the New Orleans Saints this season - and one of the biggest reasons why they are 9-3 and have turned around their embattled defense. Safety Marcus Williams also did not play on Sunday due to a groin injury. That doesn't help the Falcons on the field, though.

"It's always tough playing New Orleans", Ryan said in an article to ESPN reporter Vaughn McClure. Kamara leads the National Football League with a 7-yard average per carry while Ingram ranks fourth among running backs at 5.1 yards.

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-RUSHING OFFENSE: A - Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara both had big games, which is becoming commonplace. Fleener, who went on injured reserve Saturday because of a concussion, is the team's best receiving tight end so his absence led to Michael Hoomanawanui and Josh Hill being more involved in the passing game. In the nine wins that number jumps to 91.3. Hoomanawanui caught one pass for zero yards and Hill caught one pass for 8 yards, but lost a fumble that led to a Carolina touchdown.

I think Philadelphia will come out more focused for this game than they did against Seattle. He leads the team with four touchdown catches and his 11 total touchdowns are tied with Todd Gurley for the most in the NFL. It's fun to care so much about random games again isn't it? Twice a quarterback has been the player to gash Atlanta on the ground. Atlanta is 7-5 on the season, and coming off a loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week.

The New Orleans Saints (9-3) are off to a 3-0 start in the NFC South this season, but they have yet to face their chief rival, the Atlanta Falcons. Their O/U trends are 1-6-1 in their last 8 games vs. NFC South, 1-4 in their last 5 home games, 16-5-1 in their last 22 games vs. NFC, 5-2-1 in their last 8 Thursday games, and 1-4 in their last 5 games following a loss and an ATS loss. People make adjustments and things like that. The Falcons actually reached the Vikings' 27-yard line midway through the fourth quarter but chose to try a field goal and missed. Without these starters, New Orleans held Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to just 183 passing yards, but Atlanta will present a greater challenge.

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