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Falcons are on aerial alert

Atlanta travels to New Orleans to face the high-flying Saints, who are 6-0 and putting up points in bunches.

November 02, 2009|Sam Farmer

They are the two words no struggling secondary would ever want to see on the schedule: "New" and "Orleans."

That's the challenge the Atlanta Falcons are facing tonight at the Superdome: Drew Brees and the high-flying New Orleans Saints, whose offense is averaging an NFL-best 427.3 yards per game.

Last week, the Falcons' young and smallish secondary was burned for 311 yards passing by Dallas' Tony Romo. The week before that, the Falcons yielded 300 to Chicago's Jay Cutler.

Brees is averaging 283yards a game and has more than his share of capable targets. The Saints are 6-0 and have made NFL history by scoring at least 45 points in four of those games -- astounding considering the franchise had just five such games in the 42 years before this one.

What's more, since joining the Saints, Brees has won five of six against Atlanta.

The thing about these Saints is they have a good running game and defense too, something that poses quite a problem for the opposition.

"When you are facing a team that is as multiple as they are, you're going to have to pick and choose and hope that you get into a game where you pick at the right time," said Falcons Coach Mike Smith, whose own offense has impressive weapons.

"You can't hold everybody. You can't load up and stop the run for the whole game."

In many ways, the Saints' most recent victory was their most impressive. They overcame a 21-point deficit at Miami to win by 12. That by a New Orleans team which, to that point, had not trailed all season.

The Falcons (4-2) are determined to bounce back from their Week 7 loss at Dallas.

"If we've got any chance of winning the division, I think the guys in the locker room know this is a big game for us," running back Michael Turner said.

"We don't want to fall three games behind. In the NFL it's tough to catch up once you fall that many games behind and they have a win on you already. We've got to do whatever it takes to pull off this win."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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