The New Orleans Saints should be more rested after they had their bye week last weekend. On Sunday, the Black and Gold will look for their fifth win of the season as they host the NFC South foe Atlanta Falcons in the Caesars Superdome. Here are five things to look out for:
1) DESMOND RIDDER’S DEBUT:
Marcus Mariota was the starter for the Dirty Birds in the week one matchup. Since then, Mariota has been put on season-ending IR, leading to rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder making his first career start this Sunday. Ridder came out of Cincinnati, where he was a four-year starter that threw for 10,239 and 87 touchdowns compared to 28 interceptions. New Orleans over recent years hasn’t allowed rookie signal callers to be the ones to beat them on defense. Earlier in the season, the Black and Gold kept Kenny Pickett at bay with under 200 passing yards and sacked the kid six times.
2) HOW MUCH DOES ENO BENJAMIN PLAY:
Now that Mark Ingram is officially out for the remainder of the year, the Saints needed to get another player in that running back room. Luckily, a promising young back could be claimed off of waivers in Eno Benjamin. Benjamin spent all of 2021 and half of 2022 in Arizona where he had his best game of the season against New Orleans in that Thursday night game. With him having limited time to get to know the players and coaches and the playbook, it’ll be interesting how much action the 23-year-old will see on Sunday.
3) DOME FIELD ADVANTAGE:
Back when Drew Brees and Sean Payton were still together, the Superdome felt otherworldly and a place opponents would dread because of how much of a show the Saints would put on as the fans roared and made things difficult for them to communicate and execute their game plans. Over these last few seasons, the fans still show up and make an impact, but the team itself struggles to close out games and play a full 60 minutes at home. Can the Black and Gold come out on top with a win with this likely being their last chance to have a decent season and end on a high note?
4) REDZONE EFFECIENCY:
A key to winning this game on Sunday for the Saints is to be better in the red zone. Too often have we seen the Black and Gold falter near the end zone and settle for field goals. Even then, there’s no guarantee they will get points out of the drive as Wil Lutz has had the worst statistical year of his career only making 20/26 kicks. New Orleans needs to punch it in every time they can because if they can beat the Falcons and still have something to play for these last few weeks, they’ll have some tough defenses to play against like the Browns and Eagles. They’ll need touchdowns to beat these other teams and make their record somewhat respectable.
5) GAMEPLAN FOR SAINTS WEAPONS:
Every week there’s something that the offense does that boggles the mind of Saints fans. Players like Rashid Shaheed have gotten a boosted role with each passing game while others like Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill have had inconsistent roles and have been less effective. Andy Dalton has shown favoritism towards rookie Chris Olave and tight end Juwan Johnson while Jarvis Landry has been invisible and a non-factor when on the field. It’ll be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael plans for this game and who will have themselves a day.
Kick-off is scheduled for Sunday, December 18th at 12:00 p.m.