The Atlanta Falcons are heading into the postseason with one of the most explosive offensive units in the NFL – capping off their 2016 regular season with a high-scoring 38-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Led by their quarterback in Matt Ryan, the Falcons’ offence quickly found its stride as usual- picking apart the Saints’ feisty defensive unit with a well-balanced passing and rushing attack. Everything seemed to be clicking for Atlanta’s offence, with the unit getting some extra momentum on their side just a week before the postseason. Their explosive performance would help them clinch the no.2 seed in the NFC, and finish the 2016 campaign atop the NFC South with an 11-5 record. Their 4-game winning streak is just the beginning for this well oiled machine, as they head into their first playoff appearance since 2013.
Despite dealing with a shaky defence throughout the course of the season, the Falcons’ offence has proven to be too much for teams to handle. Ryan has been great, but he’s had the most help he’s ever had throughout his 9-year career – with a supporting cast that has contributed in many ways this season. Atlanta finished their campaign ranking 2nd in total offence, and it’s no surprise considering how many weapons this unit has as a whole. From superstars like Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, to players like Mohamed Sanu and Tevin Coleman, the Falcons have proven that they have the needed playmakers to get the job done against any team in their way.
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) January 2, 2017
Going up against the NFL’s no.1 offence on Sunday afternoon, the Falcons knew that they’d have to strike quickly on the offensive side of the ball to keep pace with the Saint’s high-powered offence. With QB Drew Brees leading the Saints’ offensive unit, it was obvious from the get-go that it would be a shootout.
High-scoring offences haven’t bothered the Falcons one bit all season, with them boasting the highest scoring 1st quarter offence in the NFL; averaging an incredible 8.7 points in the opening frame. In order to compete with the Saints, the Falcons established both of their running backs in the opening quarter, with Coleman scoring a 7-yard receiving TD on the opening drive and Freeman running in a 75-yard TD on the ensuing offensive possession to give their team an eventual 14-3 lead. Even though they’d get off to a quick start, Atlanta would only find themselves up by 4 – with Brees leading a quick TD drive to keep New Orleans in the game.
With the Saints upping their intensity, the Falcons would respond to start the 2nd quarter. They would answer back in their next 3 offensive possessions, starting with a 4-play, 29-yard drive capped off by a Ryan to Jones 1-yard TD to build their lead to 21-10. After a failed offensive possession by the Saints, Atlanta would mix it up – with Ryan connecting with 4 different pass catchers and handing the ball off 5 times, capping it off with a 10-yard TD to Sanu to boost their lead to 18. New Orleans would finally orchestrate a field goal-scoring possession, but there wouldn’t be the slightest change of momentum for Atlanta. They would only need 3 minutes to cap off a ridiculous 21-point quarter, with another even-handed drive setting up a 7-yard TD to Justin Hardy to give their team a 35-13 lead at the end of the half.
They truly enforced their will on a feisty Saints defence, showing them that they simply couldn’t be stopped once they started rolling. Even though Brees didn’t score a single point in the 3rd quarter, he would try to rally his team back in the 4th with a couple of scoring possessions. Unfortunately, his offensive surge was a little too late, with him cutting the Falcons’ lead to 6 with only 14 seconds remaining. The Saints would desperately try an onside kick, but the Falcons executed perfectly to give Ryan the chance to kneel out the rest of the clock.
11-5 Record ✔️
No. 2 Seed ✔️
Don't miss DQ's Victory Speech after our big win over the Saints. pic.twitter.com/k83sQhqzqa
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 2, 2017
The Falcons didn’t miss a beat against the Saints, while proving that they have what it makes to make a deep run in the postseason. They showed that their offence has the ability to catch fire at any given moment, especially behind a field general that could capture the league’s MVP award by the conclusion of the 2016 campaign.
Even though their defence can be problematic, they have what it takes on the offensive side of the ball to get the job done against some of the best teams in the NFC. Statistically, they’ll have the hottest offence going into the postseason – which will give them a shot to do some damage as the 2nd seed in their conference. They haven’t made a Super Bowl appearance since 1998, but with an offence that averages a league-leading 35.5 points a game, it looks like the sky could very well be the limit for this Falcons offence.
All stats for this article are from NFL.com
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