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Tabeek: Does the Drew Brees news change things for Falcons? Yes, and no

The Saints could be without their starting quarterback for an extended amount of time and play the Falcons twice in the next three weeks 

BeeksTake_Brees

I don't know where you were around 2:45 pm ET on Monday afternoon, but I was sitting in a meeting when my phone lit up with the breaking news about Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

This was the tweet that started the buzz:

And if those reports are true, that Brees has multiple fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, the Saints quarterback could certainly miss a substantial amount of time. According to one report, not even Brees knows how much time he might be forced to miss at this point. Another report suggests that an "optimistic" recovery time for Brees might be two to three weeks and that there is "hope he's back in time for playoffs."

What we do know is that the Falcons and the Saints will be squaring off this Sunday in New Orleans. In fact, the two bitter NFC South rivals will be meeting twice in the next three weeks.

The question now is, how much will the potential absence of Brees affect the Falcons?

As far as preparation goes, not much. The Falcons are plenty familiar with the Saints, Brees and his backup, Jameis Winston. Atlanta has also seen its fair share of Taysom Hill, a jack-of-all-trades, and someone I suspect will have an increased role in this offense with no Brees in the lineup.

But let's be perfectly clear here. Regardless of who lines up behind center for New Orleans, the Saints will be a handful for the Falcons and decided favorites to win on Sunday.

And why wouldn't they be? The last time I checked the standings, New Orleans was sitting atop the NFC South with a 7-2 overall record and is 6-1 against NFC teams. More importantly, the Saints are 3-0 in the division and have already swept Tom Brady and the Bucs this season.

So, yeah, they're pretty good. And they've been down this road before, don't forget.

Remember when Brees had to undergo thumb surgery last season and missed several games? The Saints didn't miss a beat, if you recall, as Teddy Bridgewater stepped in and went 5-0 as a starter.

But Bridgewater is now the starter in Carolina and Winston is, well, like a box full of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. And that's where things could get interesting for the Falcons, who are 3-6 overall and 3-1 since interim coach Raheem Morris took over on Oct. 12.

The Falcons have played well against Winston in recent history, too. Dating back to 2016, Atlanta has won five of its last six games against the Buccaneers when Winston was the starter. Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starter in the Falcons' 34-20 win over the Bucs on Nov. 26, 2017.

While that's a favorable history against Winston, it means little for the Falcons now that he's playing in New Orleans in a different offense surrounded by completely different players.

Sure, Winston is no Brees, but he can very good at times and put up big numbers when he's on. Will he have the same success as Bridgewater did while filling in 2019? How much will Hill play? I honestly have no idea at this point.

But this much I do know: Assuming this game against the Saints will be a breeze without Brees would be a huge mistake.

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