Jim Henderson / Eyewitness Sports Director
NEW ORLEANS -- The odds-makers rate the Saints and the Falcons a pick 'em game and for good reason. In each of last season's meetings, the winner did so by a scant three points.
While turnovers are vitally important in determining the outcome in every game, the Saints simply must avoid them in the Georgia Dome.
The Saints' inability to take the ball away -- just four interceptions -- has contributed to a -6 turnover differential. The Falcons' ability to take it away -- 10 interceptions -- has contributed to their +2 performance.
Atlanta has forced a turnover in 27 consecutive games, the NFL’s longest active streak.
While the Saints have had difficulty on both ends of the field in the red zone, the Falcons have been unusually productive there.
Defensively they have five takeaways in the red zone, best in the NFL. Free safety Thomas Decoud has three interceptions this season, all in the end zone.
On the other end of the field, the Falcons have 14 touchdowns in 15 goal-to-go opportunities inside their opponents' five-yard line, also number one in the NFL.
You can thank the bulldozing running back Michael Turner, the savvy tight end Tony Gonzalez, who had a one-yard touchdown reception last week, and the unflappable quarterback Matt Ryan for that.
Stopping all of them will be impossible, stopping two of them improbable – but stopping at least one of them will be critical if the Saints are going to win this game.