The rough start to the season is about to get rougher for the Atlanta Falcons, who travel to face the red-hot New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Saints have won six straight and have star quarterback Drew Brees back from injury and back to his excellent ways.
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Prior to last week's bye, New Orleans put up 510 total yards in a 31-9 victory over Arizona in Brees' return after missing five games with a thumb injury. More important, their defense continued its dominant play, holding a fifth consecutive opponent to fewer than 260 total yards. That doesn't bode well for the Falcons, who likely will need to put up a lot of points to win. Atlanta ranks 30th in points allowed, though the offense takes some of the blame because of 15 turnovers, including four games with three giveaways.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (1-7): Atlanta is also coming off a bye following a 27-20 loss to Seattle in Week 8. Matt Ryan is expected to be back in the lineup after missing the Seahawks game, but Matt Schaub guided the Falcons to season highs for total yards (510) and passing yards (441). Atlanta's defense has played better the past two weeks, holding the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks to fewer than 400 total yards, but have forced only one turnover in their past six games while committing nine turnovers during that stretch.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (7-1): Brees was sharp in his return, completing 34-of-43 passes for 373 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Regardless of who has been at quarterback, Michael Thomas has been the focal point of the offense, leading the league in receptions (73) and receiving yards (875). The Saints have not allowed 100 rushing yards in their last five games and haven't given up more than 235 passing yards during that stretch.
1. Ryan has averaged 315.3 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in his last nine games at New Orleans.
2. Thomas has 394 career receptions and needs seven to surpass Jarvis Landry for the most by a player in his first four seasons.
3. Brees has passed for 8,224 yards and 53 touchdowns against the Falcons, his highest totals against any opponent.
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Spence will spend the entire 2020 season on the Injured Reserve Non-Football Injury list due to a torn ACL.