The Atlanta Falcons will start the second half of their season with two NFC South road matchups, starting with the division-leading New Orleans Saints (7-1).
Of course, it all starts with Drew Brees for the Saints, but this year, their success has been a result of a strong defense and the play of backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater when Brees missed five games.
New Orleans has one of the league’s top defensive units this year and it’s a big reason for their success thus far.
Sunday will be the first meeting of these teams and given the rivalry and history between the clubs, records can pretty much be thrown out of the window.
The Falcons (1-7), meanwhile, are looking to get back on track this season and end a six-game losing streak.
Here are five things to know about the Saints this season:
Saints are getting it done with defense
The Saints have the No. 5 defense in league. New Orleans is giving up 316.5 yards per game, with the fourth-ranked rushing defense. The Saints are giving up just 84.3 yards per game on the ground.
In addition to their stellar play against the run, New Orleans is also having success getting to opponents’ quarterbacks. The Saints have recorded 24 sacks this year which is tenth in the league. Defensive standout Cam Jordan leads the way with eight sacks.
New Orleans is also giving up 19.5 points per game.
Brees is back in action
After missing five games with a thumb injury, Brees is back and looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. Bridgewater carried the Saints while Brees was out, going 5-0 as the starting quarterback, but when Brees returned healthy, it was his show to run.
In his first game back last week against the Cardinals (3-5-1), Brees was 34 of 34 and threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns.
Saints wideout leads league in receptions and yards
Michael Thomas has caught more passes than anyone in the league so far this year with 73. He’s been targeted the third-most of any offensive player and he’s making the most of his touches. Thomas also leads the league in receiving yards (875).
Strong play in the trenches
An underrated storyline behind the Saints’ success this season is the play of their offensive line, specifically at the tackle spot with Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead.
The Saints have allowed just 12 sacks this season which is the fifth fewest in the league.
Kamara is banged up but expected to play
Running back Alvin Kamara missed the Saints’ last two games before the bye with ankle and knee injuries. Kamara is expected to be back for Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Kamara plays a significant role in what the Saints want to do offensively to counter Brees’ passing attack. Kamara has rushed for 373 yards on 86 carries and has caught 33 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown.