In the end, what really counts is what makes the difference. Here is "What to Watch For" as the Falcons take on the Saints on Monday Night Football.
Red Zone Efficiency
It's no secret the Saints have arguably the best offense in the NFL right now, but there is more to their success then Drew Brees and his fantasy football domination. The Saints only have one game this year when their red zone efficiency was below 50 percent. The Saints have gotten into the red zone 32 times through six and games and are leading the NFL with an average 39.7 points per game. The Falcons defense does the exact opposite. The Falcons have allowed opponents 19 trips to the read zone in six games and have held opponents red zone efficiency below 50 percent all but once this season. The Falcon defense may only be ranked 11th and 25th in yards per game, but they are keeping opposing teams out of the red zone and, more importantly, out of the end zone.
Keep the Score Low
The Falcons offense is slightly above average by scoring 24.0 points per game. On the other hand, the Saints offense scores points and their defense lets teams score. The Saints defense allows 21 points per game, but that is a generous stat. With the exception of two games (Jets and Bills) the Saints defense is allowing 27.5 points per game. For the Falcons to go into the Superdome and leave victorious they can't let the game become a shootout. The Saints have scored 238 total points this season. The Falcons have scored only 144 points through six games. By keeping the score low the Falcons can do what they do best, focus on the run first.
The Falcons rank 8th overall with a 3 turnover margin and have had key turnovers in big moments to help lead the team to 4-2 record. The Saints are 4th overall with a 8 turnover margin. The major difference is the type of turnovers. The Saints have 13 interceptions and five fumble recoveries; the Falcons have five interceptions and eights fumble recoveries. Both teams have lost the ball 10 times this season (five picks and five fumbles for the Saints). The Falcons differ slightly with six int's and four fumbles. Michael Turner's four fumbles this season are rare since he's only had five career fumbles since 2004. The key will be interceptions. Drew Brees has only thrown five interceptions, (the Saints defense has almost tripled that) four of those have been returned for touchdowns. The Falcons have one victory (Bears) when Matt Ryan has thrown two interceptions this season. If Ryan can keep the ball out of the New Orleans defenses hands and the score stays low the Falcons might show the hostile fans something they have yet to see in 2009, A loss.