Head coach Sean Payton
On why the Falcons' offense has improved so much:
"Well, I think a couple things. I think their veterans at the offensive line, I think they're doing a great job. Obviously, you've got a young player in Jake Matthews who's developed, (and they) bring in Alex Mack – you see them hitting their spots extremely well in this running game. And I also think, when you look at the tape, the emergence of a guy like (Mohamed) Sanu, a guy like Taylor Gabriel – this receiving core, I think, is playing exceptionally well. And, look, when you watch and watch and watch, you see (Devonta) Freeman, and you see (Tevin) Coleman, obviously Matt Ryan is playing at a fantastic level. I think (Patrick) DiMarco is one of the better fullbacks that you never hear his name brought up. … I think overall, though, their veteran front, that's where it starts. Put that together with the different weapons they have, and it becomes extremely challenging (to defend)."
On how facing Freeman and Coleman, a pair of running backs who can catch passes, affects the game plan:
"I think tremendously. I think it's very challenging. You certainly have to be on point on where they're aligned and try to understand where they're getting their touches. The thing that's most challenging is when, all of the sudden, one of them motions out like you saw in Denver and a number of these games, and they create these matchup issues if you're in any type of man coverage, be it the linebacker or safety. I think it stresses you quite a bit."
On how Atlanta's offense has improved since the Saints last played the Falcons:
"I think, No. 1, you see their speed to the ball. They do a great job of trying to disrupt the passer with their pass rush. Obviously, Vic Beasley is having a fantastic year. But their front, in general, gets off on the snap count well. I think they're very disciplined in their zones. They obviously are confident playing man-to-man. But their overall team speed is something you see when you watch their defense."
Running back Mark Ingram
On his assessment of Atlanta's defense:
"Man, those guys, they've been playing well as a unit all year. The Falcons offense hasn't had a lot of turnovers, and the defense has been causing a lot of turnovers, so that's definitely a recipe for success. So we're going to have to take care of the football. Those guys fly around; they're disruptive on the D-line and on the second level. They've got some fast 'backers. We're going to have to play a great game to go into the Georgia Dome, in a hostile environment, and come away with a win. We're preparing hard this week and we know what we have at hand – a playoff team, a team that's clinched our division. They're not to be taken lightly and they've done a lot of good things. We're up to the challenge, though."
On what he thinks about fellow RBs Freeman and Coleman:
"Man, those guys are playmakers. Devonta Freeman, he's very elusive and explosive, makes a lot of guys miss. He runs hard for not being a big back, per se. They're both complete in both of their games. They run the ball well and they both catch the ball well out of the backfield, so as a running back, you admire that. Our offense is pretty good, as well, so we're going to be looking forward to the challenge of the running game battle. Those guys are special players, man, but we feel like we have special players of our own as well."
On if the chance to knock the Falcons out of the No. 2 seed is extra motivation:
"Yeah, man, this is kind of extra. (But) I think our main focus is just to go out and play a great game and finish the season on a high note. We finished the last two years 7-9, and just the fact that we have a chance to better that record and go 8-8, have some type of victory for the year – I think that's a big thing, because we're not going to the playoffs. Just the fact that they're playing for a chance for a first-round bye, I think that's just a little bit of extra. But our main focus is on us and improving as a team."