Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

A quick look at the 9-3 New Orleans Saints

A quick look at the 9-3 New Orleans Saints

You know these games are going to come down to the end of the game, last possession.

At halftime, Carolina trails New Orleans by a score of 21-14.

Look for the Saints to try to establish the north-south running game again on Thursday night. However, they have sputtered a handful of times as well and really haven't looked like the explosive unit from 2016. Lattimore was present for practice today and is still questionable for the Falcons game with an ankle injury. I wouldn't say I'm disappointed.

Rhodes made a point to give his secondary mates credit after the game, specifically for the play above...

Minnesota (-1.5) at Carolina: I'm probably the only person who thinks the Vikings are the best team in the NFC right now, but that defense is NASTY, and even with Alvin Kamara becoming a superhero, they still scare me more than the Eagles. New Orleans has the third-ranked rushing offense, averaging 142.6 yards per game and a league-best 5.0 yards per carry. On the six snaps Jones went up against someone other than Rhodes, he was held to one catch on two targets for 11 yards. Ryan threw four touchdowns.

Mark Ingram has battered defenses since Week 2.

New Orleans is also third in rush offense (143 yards per game) third in pass offense (266 yards per game) and sixth in scoring touchdowns in the red zone (60 percent) this season. But the week before that, Jones busted loose for 12 catches, 253 yards and two touchdowns against the Buccaneers.

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Also, Atlanta's running backs and receivers are a awful matchup for the improved Saints defense. The second-year tight end has topped 50 yards just once all season and it came on a broken play in Week 1. Twice a quarterback has been the player to gash Atlanta on the ground.

Quinn took it upon himself to write a fill-in-the-blank late note for Falcons fans so they can either arrive to work a couple of hours late, or work from home Friday.

Forget about defending their conference crown, Atlanta needs a win on Thursday if it wants a realistic shot at repeating as NFC South champions.

The Falcons (7-5) host the Saints (9-3) at 7:25 p.m. Thursday.

The 2017 Saints are on a magical ride with a fun young team, but Atlanta is still relevant with a young team of their own, so there's nothing better than this game with playoffs and division titles on the line. The sense of desperation over postseason possibilities slipping away will spur the Falcons through the fourth quarter.

- Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to AthlonSports.com, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans.

Safety Kurt Coleman also missed a tackle he normally makes on the opening drive.

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