News & Analysis

NFL Week 14 Preview: Saints at Falcons

Oct 29, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton shakes hands with offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk (71) before their game against the Chicago Bears at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints visit the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.

PFFELO Ranking: 5

Coverage by: Andrew Fleischer

Matchup: New Orleans Saints offense vs. Atlanta Falcons defense

  • T Ryan Ramczyk vs. DI Grady Jarrett – The Saints traded away Brandin Cooks this past March along with the 118th pick to the Patriots for the 32nd pick in the draft, where they selected Ryan Ramczyk. It’s a trade that’s worked out well for New Orleans, as Ramczyk’s 82.6 overall grade makes him the highest-graded rookie offensive lineman and the eighth-highest graded tackle overall. Ramczyk’s pass-blocking efficiency rating of 96.3 is tied for the 10-best among 56 tackles with 266-plus pass-blocking snaps. He’ll be dealing with Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarret’s interior pass-rushing throughout the game. Jarrett’s pass-rushing productivity rating of 5.9 is tied for the 24th-highest out of 67 eligible defensive tackles, while his 9.3 run stop percentage is tied for the 20th-best mark among 77 eligible defensive tackles.

Ryan Ramczyk, tackle, New Orleans Saints

PFFELO Ranking: 7

Coverage by: Bill O'Brien

Matchup: Atlanta Falcons offense vs. New Orleans Saints defense

  • WR Mohamed Sanu vs. CB Kenny Vaccaro – This Thursday’s game between the Falcons and Saints will feature a primetime matchup on the outside between Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, provided Lattimore plays. With those two doing battle on the outside, it will be important for the Falcons to get their other weapons involved. Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu figures to be one of the options that the Falcons will turn to, and he has earned an overall grade of 82.3, which ranks 18th out of 116 qualified wide receivers. The Saints will rely on cornerback Kenny Vaccaro to cover Sanu as both players often line up in the slot. Vaccaro has struggled in a transition from safety to cornerback this season and has earned an overall grade of 36.7, which ranks last out of 116 qualified cornerbacks.
  • RB Devonta Freeman vs. LB Manti Te'o – Falcons running back Devonta Freeman returned last week after a two-game absence and posted 74 rushing yards on slightly limited work. Freeman has been one of the most elusive running backs this season, as he has forced 27 missed tackles on run plays, which ranks eighth out of 50 qualified running backs. On the other side is Saints linebacker Manti Te’o, who is in his first season in New Orleans. Te’o has been one of the better run defenders for the Saints this season and has earned the 15th-highest run stop percentage among linebackers at a rate of 9.6 percent.

Devonta Freeman, running back, Atlanta Falcons

  • T Jake Matthews vs. Edge Trey Hendrickson – Saints edge defender Cameron Jordan is one of the league’s best along the edge and figures to draw plenty of attention from the Falcons’ offensive line. Jordan should open up opportunities for fellow edge defender Trey Hendrickson to have one-on-one matchups. Hendrickson rushes mainly from the defense’s right side and has earned an overall grade of 70.8. Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews will see plenty of Hendrickson in this matchup. Matthews is having an up-and-down season in pass protection and currently ranks 42nd out of 81 qualified tackles in pass blocking efficiency with a rating of 94.4.

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