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Falcons next opponent: What to know about the New Orleans Saints 

The Atlanta Falcons (3-6) return from their bye week and hit the road to take on the New Orleans Saints (7-2) for the first meeting between these NFC South foes. The Saints have been one of the NFC's best teams all season and the Falcons appear to be hitting their stride making Sunday's matchup intriguing.

Here's what you need to know about the New Orleans Saints:

The Saints will likely be without Drew Brees

When Drew Brees didn't return to the field following halftime of the Saints' win over the 49ers late Sunday afternoon, reports started to swirl regarding the status of the quarterback's health moving forward. ESPN's Ed Werder reported that Brees has broken ribs and a collapsed lung that might cause him to miss significant time.

If Brees does not play, New Orleans will turn to Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill to lead the offense. Coach Sean Peyton wouldn't say who will get the starting nod, but it looks like it both will have a chance to impact the offense.

Winston and the Falcons' defense have familiarity with one another as the Falcons have struggled against the former first-round pick when he was the starting quarterback in Tampa. Filling in for Brees, Winston completed seven passes for 75 yards. He's shown over the years he can make splash plays while he's also known for turning the ball over frequently. In 2019, Winston became the first player to throw 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions.

Hill is used more as a gadget player in the Saints' offense and has shown his flashes of promise at running back and wide receiver. He's often used on third down as Peyton tries to confuse defenses with Hill's versatility. The Saints signed Hill to a two-year extension this spring showing their appreciation for what he can do in New Orleans' offense.

Doing it with defense

The strength of the Saints isn't Brees of running back Alvin Kamara this year, it's their defense. For the last few years, New Orleans has had one of the best defensive fronts in football with Cam Jordan at the helm. But with the addition of Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary and the elevated play of linebacker Demario Davis, the Saints have talent on every level.

The Saints rank No. 2 in rush defense, allowing only 76.8 yards per game. The unit has also recorded 24 sacks which is ninth in the league and their 11 interceptions rank No. 5 in the NFL.

Kamara leading the way once again

Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,178. He's once again been an asset in the run and pass game for Peyton and is playing as good as he ever has. Kamara has 486 yards on the ground and has added 648 receiving yards. The Saints rank No. 4 in points per game (30.1) and No. 8 in time of possession (31:39).

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos with top photos from Week 9 | Salute to Service game

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