Matchup: Falcons’ rushing attack vs. Saints’ run defense

Falcons running back Michael Turner bowls over Tennessee Titans Michael Griffin as he bulls his way through the Titans for a long first down run during 2nd quarter action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back Michael Turner bowls over Tennessee Titans Michael Griffin as he bulls his way through the Titans for a long first down run during 2nd quarter action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — With the NFC South title on the line, the Falcons (9-5) face the New Orleans Saints (11-3) at 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Here is a look at how the Falcons’ running backs match up against the Saints’ linebackers:

Matchup advantage: Falcons.

What happened last time: The Saints were without Vilma and the Falcons ran for 138 yards on 32 carries for a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. Turner had 96 yards on 22 carries and Rogers had 30 yards on seven carries. The Saints used safety Roman Harper to help in run support. He finished with 13 tackles.

Falcons’ starters: Running back Michael Turner and fullback Mike Cox

Falcons’ key reserves: Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Antone Smith.

Saints’ starters: Strongside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and weakside linebacker Scott Shanle.

Saints’ key reserves: Jonathan Casillas, Will Herring, Ramon Humber and Martez Wilson

Matchup to watch: Turner vs. Vilma.

The Falcons will want to establish Turner and their rushing attack in order to keep the Saints’ potent offense off the field.

Turner has been held under 100 yards in the past four games and the Falcons have dropped in the rushing rankings. They are averaging 110.6 yards per game, which ranks 18th in the league.

Turner has 273 carries, which is the second-most in the league. He’s third in rushing with 1,129 yards.

The Saints defense will be much stouter against the run this time around because middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who missed the last game with a knee injury, is slated to play.

“He adds a whole lot to their defense,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He’s really the quarterback of their defense. He gets them in and out of coverages.”

The Saints are giving up 109.9 yards per game, which ranks 13th in the league.

The Saints will also try to confuse the Falcons by switching between a 4-3 and 3-4 front. The 3-4 allows Casillas, who had seven tackles in Vilma’s absence to see more action.

“They do multiple things and Casillas can be out there,” Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey said. “It’s a good front seven. They do a lot of things; a lot of different schemes.”

Turner, who is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry over the past four games, is getting ready for the multiple fronts.

“They are trying to confuse you,” Turner said. “We just have to make sure that we identify the guys that we need to block and we’ll be fine.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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80 comments Add your comment

mackdad

December 23rd, 2011
2:56 pm

like to see Jacquizz get more touches….this guy is tough and has breakaway speed

mackdad

December 23rd, 2011
3:25 pm

wow…..its lonely out here today

Joey

December 23rd, 2011
3:26 pm

If Mularkey will let Ryan do his thing, and doesn’t wait til the second half, the Falcons can win this game.

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
3:37 pm

saints by 17 on mnf!

mackdad

December 23rd, 2011
3:47 pm

bold prediction……D Brees gets rocked by John Abraham (Issac and Jacob), separates shoulder out for rest of season

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
4:08 pm

my prediction is far more realistic than yours ! saints by 17 on mnf !

Yoshi

December 23rd, 2011
4:41 pm

If Mularkey will let Ryan do his thing, and doesn’t wait til the second half, the Falcons can win this game

————

And what exactly is Ryan’s “thing”?

TechNut

December 23rd, 2011
4:53 pm

MR2’s “thing” is calling the plays at the line of scrimmage; he does a great job of it and they seem to perform better when he is in charge.

joe white

December 23rd, 2011
4:54 pm

Bottom line please let matt run the no huddle for 60 mins that way the saints cant and wont know what is hitting them for sure.

Yoshi

December 23rd, 2011
4:56 pm

You can’t run the no-huddle for 60 mintues. Do expect the fat lineman to run for 60 mintues without resting an entire game? Use common sense people.

James

December 23rd, 2011
5:01 pm

Mularkey should change the opening “script” of plays and give the keys to Matt from the no huddle. Would love to see like 5 or 6 straight runs to bring the safeties up then go for the kill shot downfield

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
5:48 pm

all of that will still be for naught -saints by 17 on mnf !

It's Over

December 23rd, 2011
6:09 pm

Hiram-my ‘who dat brother’ you are indeed a great prognosticator. Saints roll this monday and secure the 2 seed with 49er loss. (I’m looking at you Seattle!!!)
Falcons are a nice little story, but they haven’t hit the bigtime just yet!! This article doesn’t speak to the saints improvement against the run over the last few weeks against the likes of Peterson, Chris Johnson, Kevin Smith, and Brandon Jacobs. Not too mention the Saints give up yards, but not a lot of points.

HATinGA

December 23rd, 2011
6:43 pm

The Falcons have always found ways to beat the saints at the end of games, the one in the dome this should have been won before overtime. It will be a close game that one of the Matts win in the closing seconds. Go Falcooons!!

whodat70816

December 23rd, 2011
6:50 pm

@HATinGA….a 9-2 Saints win record over the last 11 games against the Falcons says….The Falcons have not always found ways to beat the Saints at the end of games….

In fact it says the Falcons have only found a way to beat the Saints 2 times in the last 11 meetings.

Saints put this one away early…its MNF and Drew Brees and all the Saints halos shine brightest on Monday Nights on the national stage….Saints win by at least 10.

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
7:22 pm

Christmas Reminder: hiramsaint> bodywash…………………whodat> scope mouthwash………………………you clowns always predicting blow away scores and seldom happen .

If anything it will probably come down to a very few points difference on either teams final score.

As I said in an earlier blog post, really can’t matter too much if they lose the game to the Saints if its meant they win only once rather get the win when it counts most in the playoffs and leave you tarts watching the Falcons play in the playoffs advancing while your team is saying see you next year !

Good thing bout it is you can all pop popcorn and drink kool-aid and hold hands while you talking about what if,we shoulda, we could have,why didn’t we, etc,etc, etc,……… watching Falcons in playoff games.

Falcons clearly stronger in the running game and on defense and here lately as a measuring stick , they just are not too shabby on the offensive side either. They start off fast like last week against your guys you are in for some serious trouble.

Post it D-led

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
7:40 pm

Going back over quickly through some of these latest blogs in here…………………………somebody has been in the Holiday Tipsy bottles with some of the postings they was hilarious !

Falcons get em Monday !

Sterling

December 23rd, 2011
7:43 pm

Yoshi are stupid?? The falcons are not gonna hold on 2 the ball ALL GAME LONG for 60 mins u idiot. Use common sense. Whenever matt ryan runs his no huddle, he has a better completion rating, throws more tds, and gets more yards. Even mike turner avg. more rushing yards per rush

mackdad

December 23rd, 2011
7:49 pm

doubtful atl will lose by 17, these games are always close and the last time atl played in NO they won….Brees should be leaning on crutches (i.e. coach payton) by end of game wondering what hit him

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
7:50 pm

beyyer check those who is better than who in the rushing game mikey m- saints are on the rise and it seems turner has been slipping these past few weeks and now a groin-hmmmmm . saints by 17 on mnf !

SeenThisB4

December 23rd, 2011
7:53 pm

Atl is going down on MNF, 34 – 7

SeenThisB4

December 23rd, 2011
7:58 pm

why do i have to be so gay?

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
7:58 pm

I knew I could smell em around here^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^something told me to scan back by here and check while I was cleaning out e-mails and sure enough

SeenThisB4

December 23rd, 2011
7:59 pm

alright, alright, ill confess….my penis is small….its makes me feel better by coming on the falcons blog and being green with envy

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
8:00 pm

Turner would play hurt to be out there in the fun coming Monday

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
8:01 pm

sometimes i like to sit at home and juggle my balls while SeenThisB4 walks around in high heels……talks about season’s greetings…

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
8:02 pm

Look for some Turner with Rodgers mixed in and of course Snell will be out there making some plays too in the run game.

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
8:03 pm

did you know that my favorite part of the saints football game is when they pat each other on the ass….oh boy… whenever me and SeenThisB4 see that…it gets our juices flowing….ooooh boy!!

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
8:09 pm

mikey m -really man . is all you have is to try and impersonate someone in a vulgar manner? you know kids read these blogs too so at least be a man about it.

SeenThisB4

December 23rd, 2011
8:10 pm

If the saints win, im walking around bourbon street in my usual…a leotard with my one inch penis hanging out….and playing grab azz all night with hiramsaint…. drinking sex on the beaches and yelling who dat with the trannys”’……. who dat who dat…..who dat coming? hhmm… he sure in sexy….hhhmmm hhmmm….oooh…look at drew breezy over there….i would love to be his center…..oh yes

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
8:12 pm

Boy you are a low down idiot, ha ! ha ! Seeing how I know alot about computers and networking it doesn’t take a lot of science to know who ever is doing it will get caught and can be traced by the ip address ……..ask anyone who knows, so whoever is doing it……………….I would suggest them to stop before they get into serious trouble.

ATLFALCON98

December 23rd, 2011
8:13 pm

YOU TWO QUEERS LEAVE OUR BLOG NOW!!!!

BLACK COBRA

December 23rd, 2011
8:15 pm

SAINTS 42 FAILCONS 27

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
8:16 pm

if it’s not you i apologize but looking at the times of the post and you being the only person posting i thought it could be you . dol will hopefully ban them but then there are ways around that too . sorry again for the accusation only if it was a false one

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
8:17 pm

@ hiramsaint………..Probably some kid doing it and thinks its funny but its not funny with the foul language mixed in with it, oh don’t worry, they will get caught.

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
8:19 pm

Just makes it hard to post on here with the stupidity remarks that are fake

BLACK COBRA

December 23rd, 2011
8:22 pm

Mr. Ledbetter fails to mention how saints run defense improved over past few weeks. Saints have held all main RBs of teams to less than 80 yards…

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
8:22 pm

also go back up and look at one of the first remarks I think I posted a remark at 7:58 at that same time so it couldn’t be me doing it unless I was as fast as Rodgers out on the football field.

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
8:28 pm

Yeah true, but with it being Christmas weekend and your Team playing at home they going to keep those bellys filled up from the meals and every pit stop by the fridge at their houses so I look for our Falcons to be playing some fat Turkeys with indigestion problems on Monday night out there……………oh my, I can’t believe I thought about this but it probably be true.

Our guys wont get but one Christmas meal and then after that I am sure the trainers are to put them on some kind of diet other than this fattening ,overbloated food we all eat over the holidays.

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2011
8:35 pm

Alright all is quiet on this thing, I am calling it a night with this and if I don’t drop in on this thing again this weekend have a nice Christmas and keep it safe………………

later taters

ohhhhYEAH

December 23rd, 2011
8:56 pm

HAHAHAHA! Saints were given one Super Bowl 2 years ago and they think theyve “hit the big time” while us Falcons “havent quite hit it” yet? You Saints fans are indeed the worst of the lot. Self entitlement is not a good thing my friend. I surely hope you dont believe Drew Brees and Co. think this game will be as easy as you idiots claim it will be. And if they do….they will be doomed. The Falcons can, and in all likelihood win this game. Why? New Orleans has NO defense. The Falcons d is not the best in the league, but it is in the upper half. And with us getting Grimes and Hayden back, its going to be a uch different task for Brees than if he were able to throw on Chris Owens and Dominique Franks. Am i saying the Saints have no chance? Nope, not at all, they have jsut as good a chance as the Falcons. But to sit here and try and say New Orleans will win by 17…..thats the dumbest thing ive heard all week

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
9:18 pm

saints by 17 on mnf !

whodat70816

December 23rd, 2011
9:19 pm

@ohhhhhYeah….Saints winning by 17 is the dumbest thing I’ve heard all week too…

Saints will win by 27.

hiramsaint

December 23rd, 2011
9:47 pm

where ‘yat whodat—drew breeeeeeeeees

IKillTrollsAllDay

December 23rd, 2011
9:48 pm

Atlanta wins 62-7 on MNF!

IKillTrollsAllDay

December 23rd, 2011
10:00 pm

Drew “IliketothrowintstoBrentGrime’s” Brees?

rudy

December 23rd, 2011
10:32 pm

im looking for a falcons win in my stocking

Chopper

December 23rd, 2011
10:50 pm

Falcons 34 n saints 27

Chopper

December 23rd, 2011
10:53 pm

falcons chase qb sack n fumble then falcons pick it up run for score

Chopper

December 23rd, 2011
11:01 pm

saint fan man s receiver picked off falcon cornerback run for a score