Originally written on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 10/21/14
Opponent: New Orleans Saints Where: Georgia Dome Time: 8:20 p.m. Records: Falcons (10-1, 2-1 in NFC South); Saints (5-6, 2-1). Point Spread (Danny Sheridan's odds as published in USA Today): Atlanta is favored by 3 12 with an over of 54. Key Offensive Match-up: In the Falcons' 31-27 loss to New Orleans on Nov. 11, the game came down to the Falcons' having three plays to make one yard to score a touchdown something they could not do late in the fourth quarter. Again, against the NFL's No. 32-ranked run defense, the Falcons will have to make those yards in the critical situations. The last few weeks, the Falcons have played running back Jacquizz Rodgers more snaps than they did earlier in the season and have given him the ball more often as Michael Turner continues to struggle. Turner has 592 yards on the season on track to be his lowest total since joining the Falcons in a year in which he was not limited by injury. In addition, Turner has only averaged better than 3.3 yards per carry in four games. Conversely, the quicker, speedier Rodgers seems to be hitting his stride. He rushed for 49 yards on 10 carries last week and could make the difference in the team's running game. Key Defensive Match-up: Injuries will be critical in this phase. Falcons' cornerback Asante Samuel is active but has been limited in the last two games by a right shoulder injury and did not practice during the shortened week. Look for Saints quarterback Drew Brees to test him or whoever substitutes for him if he cannot play all the snaps. In addition, the Falcons' other starting cornerback, Dunta Robinson, was bothered by an illness midweek, which caused him to miss all of Tuesday's practice and some of Wednesday's. The Falcons need their best from both players. In addition to needing a solid performance from those two, the Falcons will have to defend the run better a phase that hurt them badly in the first game. This time, they will have outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon back. (An ankle injury sidelined Weatherspoon for the first game.) With Weatherspoon back in the fold, the Falcons' run defense was vastly improved last week. They will need it to be again on Thursday. Inactive: For Atlanta: quarterback Dominique Davis, wide receiver Tim Toone, safety Charles Mitchell, guard Phillipkeith Manley, guard Harland Gunn, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, defensive tackle Peria Jerry; for New Orleans, wide receiver Courtney Roby, linebacker Scott Shanle, defensive end Junior Galette, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, T Charles Brown, TE David Thomas, DT Tom Johnson.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Former NFL QB still feels effects of concussions every day

Robert Klemko given four-week suspension from The MMQB

Michael Vick: Percy Harvin won't be a monster here

Robert Griffin III 'guaranteed' to be back in Week 11

Urlacher: Cutler paid like elite QB, hasn’t produced like one

Hoyer doesn’t think about getting benched for Manziel

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cardinals kicker blew $1,500 signing bonus on headphones

Ainge: Draft lottery reform would be 'better for the game'

Royals take Game 2 to even series with Giants

Report: Roger Goodell will have to testify in Ray Rice case

Blake Griffin accused of slapping man in Las Vegas club

Ronda Rousey to face Cat Zingano at UFC 182

One Direction promotes tour by acting like bandwagon NFL fans

Jimmy Howard unveils pink mask for 'Hockey Fights Cancer'

Louisville Athletic Dept. asking for donations at gas pump

Falcons make huge mistake with London infographic

DeMarco Murry surprises Cowboys linemen with iMacs

Jimbo Fisher's son reps for Winston on 'Superhero Day'

WATCH: Steve Ballmer freaks out while shown on Jumbotron

AUDIO: Rex Ryan pranks Sammy Watkins on conference call

Top storyline for each Week 8 NFL game

WATCH: Giants pitcher yells at Salvador Perez after HR

Will Muschamp's head coaching job posted on Craigslist

Miss California USA would like to date Eric Hosmer

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Brian Urlacher rips Jay Cutler

Top NFL storylines: Week 8

Kiffin's mom worried for son's safety

Report: Goodell will have to testify

Penguins do 'O Canada' following tragedy

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Porn star: No one parties like Janikowski

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

The San Francisco Giants are zombies

10 bold predictions for NFL Week 8

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.