One of the trends the Falcons don't like in how this season has unfolded began to be an issue in Week 10 against the Saints. Now as they prepare to face them three weeks later, it's something they want to reverse quickly.
Last time out against the Saints, Atlanta's offense found themselves in the redzone six times, but failed to come away with touchdowns as frequently as they would prefer. They scored in five of those trips inside the 20, but failed to turn an attempt on the 2-yard line in the final seconds of the game into a go-ahead touchdown. Unfortunately for Atlanta, two of those five scores were field goals. Atlanta's red-zone efficiency against New Orleans ended up being 50 percent, a number that hasn't moved since.
It's a trend they're looking to reverse starting this week against the team that did a nice job keeping Falcons points off the board.
"The last time we played them we fell short a little bit in the redzone," QB Matt Ryan said on Tuesday. "For us, playing against New Orleans it's imperative when you have your opportunities in that part of the field you have to take advantage of that and score touchdowns. That's something I can do better and we can do better as a team."
In the two games since since the Saints the Falcons have ventured inside the red zone six times, but come away with only three touchdowns. They ended each game with a 50 percent red-zone efficiency. Against New Orleans, a team ranked fifth in the league with 28 points per game, scoring is at a premium and the Falcons can't afford to walk away from the field leaving points behind them.
Scoring touchdowns is obviously the goal in every game and every trip down the field, but this week there's a heightened awareness around it.
"It's a point of emphasis every week, but it is crucial that we score touchdowns and try and finish our drives with extra points, not field goals when you're down there in the red zone," head coach Mike Smith said. "They're one of the best in the league in terms of red-zone scoring. When you're down there you have to make sure that you put it in the end zone."
New Orleans leads the league this year in this coveted percentage. They're on top of everyone with a 73.53 percentage. They're fifth in the league in their last three games, scoring at a 77.78 percent clip. In their Week 12 loss to the 49ers they were at 100 percent.
Heading into their bye week in Week 7 the Falcons were sixth in the NFL at 64 percent.
The frustrating thing is the Falcons know they're more than capable of punching it in when close to the goal line. Comparing their recent averages to two of their benchmark games of the season, Denver in Week 2 and San Diego in Week 3, and it's easy to see why the Falcons are frustrated with how they've performed inside the redzone.
In Week 2 the Falcons scored seven in three of their four trips into the redzone. In Week 3 they crossed the goal line four of five times inside the 20. Those are numbers that equate to high point totals and most often wins. Against the Saints, those are the kind of numbers that can beat a team scoring just less than 30 points a game.