When New Orleans goes to Atlanta on Sunday, you’ve likely read as much about the Saints as you possibly can.
But what do you know about the Falcons?
That’s where A View From the Other Side comes in. Every Friday during the Saints' season, WWL-TV.com will ask five questions to at least one beat writer covering the Saints’ opponent that week.
This week, we once again talk with D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Attorney Ledbetter has appeared on ESPN’s First Take, Cold Pizza and Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith, MSNBC, and ESPN’s SportsCenter. He has been a sports reporter for the Charlotte Observer, the Cincinnati Enquirer, a sports reporter and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and is currently the Atlanta Falcons Beat Writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
He was one of the lead writers in the notorious Michael Vick dog-fighting federal case.
You can read his writing and coverage on the AJC’s Web site. You can also follow his Twitter account: @AJCFalcons.
WWL-TV: Since these teams played on Nov. 2, Atlanta is 2-3. What has happened to the Falcons, who started out 4-3?
D. Orlando Ledbetter: “The league's schedule maker was not very kind to the Falcons. They had to play four teams – San Francisco, Dallas, Washington and the New York Giants – who were coming off byes. While they went 2-2 against those teams they were taking those teams’ best, rested shots.
“You wondered if injuries would start to mount and that's certainly been a factor It was very evident in the Philadelphia game when five starters on offense didn't play including Matt Ryan and Michael Turner.”
WWL-TV: Chris Redman got pummeled in his first game as a starter. Should he start in place of Matt Ryan, who has an injured toe, do you expect a better performance from him?
Ledbetter: Yes. Redman was excellent in relief of Ryan against Tampa Bay. The Falcons played most of the Philadelphia game with three starters along the line – LT Sam Baker, C Todd McClure and RG Harvey Dahl – on the sidelines. McClure went down with a knee in the game and Baker and Dahl were inactive. The backups had a tough time with the Eagles' blitzes and Redman was doing good just to hold up under the relentless pressure. He can function with better protection.
WWL-TV: When these teams last met, Michael Turner exploded for 151 yards. He's banged up right now. Do the Falcons have anyone who can burn the Saints on the ground this time?
Ledbetter: It doesn't appear so. Jerious Norwood has explosive play ability and Jason Snelling is a hard runner. Norwood is not 100 percent recovered from a hip flexor injury that caused him to miss five games.
WWL-TV: Coach Mike Smith said the Falcons are now in the "Wild Card Division" after the Saints clinched the NFC South this past weekend. What will be the biggest hindrance to the Falcons getting one of the two Wild Card spots?
Ledbetter: If they lose to the Saints they will practically be eliminated. It doesn't look like 9-7 is going to make it in 2009. But the fans are rooting for the 9-7 – that would give the franchise its first consecutive winning seasons. There would be a party down Peachtree Street!
WWL-TV: Are the Falcons falling apart?
Ledbetter: I don't sense that. They are loose and Tony Gonzalez seems to thinks that's a good thing. We've seen some recent Falcons teams start fast and then fade. One could sense the impending doom in Jim Mora's 8-8 and 7-9 seasons. This team is much younger and you don't get that sense that they'll stop fighting.