The New Orleans Saints missed the playoffs last year as the Atlanta Falcons opportunistically leapt to the top of the division. The Falcons are better, the Saints have their coach back, and their Week 1 match up could be one of the best games of the 2013 season.
The Saints stumbled out of the gate, adjusting to the random suspensions handed out by the league. Without head coach Sean Payton, the Saints failed to work around one of the worst defenses in football. The offense stumbled a bit, which left a porous defense exposed. The Saints fell apart, but they were much better than their record showed last season.
The Falcons got better again. A talented passing attack made up for a mediocre rushing game, but the Falcons addressed their imbalanced attack this season. By bringing in ferocious rusher Steven Jackson and letting Michael Turner go, Atlanta should be able to pick apart weaker defenses like the Saints’.
Still, Drew Brees and the Saints have an offense so powerful that it could again make up for their weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball. They’re one of the best passing attacks in the history of the game, and they should be able to produce points against a middling Falcons secondary and pass rush.
The Saints have their work cut out for them in Week 1, and they have a difficult path back to the top of the division, but if they can survive this first-week contest, they’ll be in a great position to make the playoffs again in 2013.