As good as Drew Brees is, this New Orleans Saints team can not win without a solid running game. The Saints backfield has been somewhat of a mystery in 2012, however when they have excelled so has the team. For instance, the last time the Saints played the Atlanta Falcons they rushed for 148 yards in a 31-27 win. Thursday night’s NFC South brawl will be one of the NFL‘s best games in 2012. In my mind, the Saints need an effective running game to hand Atlanta their second loss.
Atlanta is at the top of most NFL power rankings and rightfully so, however the Saints have found a chink in the Falcons armor in 2012. Who would’ve thought that a team with a superstar quarterback like Brees and weapons like Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston would have to rely on a 27th ranked running game to get a W? That’s insane right? Well, if the Saints can gash the Falcons for another 100+ yards on the ground the Saints will be that much closer to a postseason birth.
No one is asking Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram or Pierre Thomas to be 1,000 yard rushers, however just a threat in the backfield will open the Saints offense wide open. In the Week 10 match up, Ingram rushed for 67 yards and Ivory ran for 72 yards on just seven attempts.
On the other hand, Atlanta has yielded on average 123.2 yards on the ground a game and 221.1 threw the air per contest. Look for New Orleans to exploit a 22nd ranked run defense to set up the only consistent thing in New Orleans in the last year: Drew Brees and the passing game.