AtlantaFalcons.com contributing writer Daniel Cox gets you ready for Sunday's game with his five keys to a Falcons victory, including getting off to a very fast start against the dangerous Saints, getting third-year wide receiver Harry Douglas involved and winning the ever-important battle for turnovers inside the Louisiana Superdome.
The New Orleans Saints have the near-legendary offense, but last week the Atlanta Falcons by virtue of putting up 444 offensive yards and 41 points, looked more like the Saints of last season than the Saints themselves have thus far in 2010.
But make no mistake, the Falcons know the Super Bowl champions are deadly. A team with that much talent and potential doesn't go quietly into the night, and the season is still young.
Atlanta will just look to make sure the New Orleans offensive outburst that is like a ticking time bomb doesn't explode on them on Sunday.
A win in the Superdome will put Atlanta tied with New Orleans at 2-1 and catapult the Falcons into the position of one of the most-talked about teams in the league.
Atlanta is less worried about what people will say about them now even with a win against the Saints. They want those same kind of comments coming at the end of the season, when recognition really matters.
A look at the five keys that could ensure a Falcons victory in Week 3:
Start fast:The Falcons should not ignore the fact that the Saints are coming off a short week, a week that saw them play on the West Coast on Monday night. New Orleans is at home, but getting them to feel the pressure of an early deficit may go a long way on Sunday.
The Falcons under head coach Mike Smith are 18-6 when they score first and 19-1 when they have the lead at halftime.
In HD:Third-year wide out Harry Douglas appears to be fully healthy in his return from last year's torn ACL. Through two games this season, he is second on the team in receiving yards with 70 on five catches. Douglas' 14 yards per catch average signals big plays can happen when the ball is in the receiver's hands.
With the Saints' defense expecting to key in on the running game and wide receiver Roddy White, Douglas may be the target and the needed playmaker Sunday. Additionally, Saints nickel cornerback Randall Gay is unlikely to play after suffering a concussion Monday night against the 49ers. The inexperience in the slot and a due breakout could mean a big day for Douglas.
Ace the turnovers:With a matchup between two teams that have shown so far this season an ability to protect the ball on offense and defenses that can take it away, one turnover may be the difference in the game.
Based on what's seen in 2010 on paper, these two teams are evenly matched on both sides of the ball.
The team that can tip the scales by taking it away at least once may have the edge.
Control the utility men:Saints quarterback Drew Brees is exceptional at getting everyone involved. With running back Reggie Bush out with a broken leg, Brees will be looking for some new players to step up.
Running back Pierre Thomas and wide receiver Marques Colston will be prominently featured in the game plan. It's a given that they'll get theirs and that Atlanta will do what they can to not let those two beat them.
But the Falcons will need to pay close attention to utility players like wide receiver Lance Moore and tight end David Thomas. Someone will need to fill Bush's void and Brees is a master at finding holes and oversights in the defense. If Atlanta takes their eyes off players like these two, they could beat them big.
One dimensional:In the last few seasons, running back Pierre Thomas has had some of his best games against Atlanta. On Sunday, he'll look to make it three games in a row at home against the Falcons where he's scored a rushing and receiving touchdown.
The Falcons' run defense was in the top 10 last season and while they're statistically in the bottom half right now, they've shown their moments of performing very well against the run.
Thomas may still be able to do some things against Atlanta in the air, but they'll want to limit what he does on the ground as New Orleans' main running threat. Taking away the running Thomas and the rest of the Saints' ground game will make New Orleans much more predictable, defendable, and possibly turnover prone.