Saints-Falcons Scouting Report

WHEN: 7:20 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

TV/RADIO: NFL Network/WTGE (100.7-FM), WWL-AM (870-AM, 105.3-FM)

RECORDS: Falcons, 10-1; Saints: 5-6

LAST WEEK: Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Bucs, 24-23; Saints lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 31-21

COACHES: Falcons, Mike Smith, 5th season (53-25); Saints, Joe Vitt, 2nd season (7-9)

NFL RANKINGS

Offense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Falcons, 26.7 (8); Saints, 28.0 (5)

Total yards: Falcons, 385.9 (6); Saints, 381.9 (8)

Rushing: Falcons, 88.3 (28); Saints, 91.5 (27)

Passing: Falcons, 297.6 (2); Saints, 290.5 (5)

Defense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Falcons, 19.6 (6); Saints, 27.6 (28)

Total yards: Falcons, 344.9 (14); Saints, 454.8 (32)

Rushing: Falcons, 123.2 (22); Saints, 156.5 (32)

Passing: Falcons, 221.7 (13); Saints, 298.3 (30)

KEY PLAYERS

Falcons: QB Matt Ryan, TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Roddy White, DE John Abraham, LB Sean Weatherspoon, FS Thomas DeCoud.

Saints: QB Drew Brees, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Marques Colston, DE Cameron Jordan, WLB Jonathan Vilma, FS Malcolm Jenkins.

FALCONS SCOUTING REPORT

Offense: The Falcons rank second in passing offense and the Saints are fifth. And the Saints rank 27th in rushing, while the Falcons are 28th. Still, they’re more than capable of doing some damage if Michael Turner can get going against the NFL’s 32nd-ranked run defense.

Defense: If the Falcons can’t stop the run against the Saints, who had 148 yards against them on Nov. 11, they could be in trouble. Atlanta ranks 22nd against the run, which made their linebackers and secondary vulnerable to Drew Brees in their first meeting.

Special teams: Matt Bryant has been a very good kicker for a long time and is 26 of 31 on field goals, while Matt Bosher averages 47.1 yards per punt. Tiny Jacquizz Rodgers is a dangerous return man who has a long kickoff return of 77 yards.

FALCONS FACTS

The Falcons lead the series with the Saints, 45-41, and also won the only playoff meeting in 1991. … The Falcons have two players with Louisiana ties — center Todd McClure, a former Central High and LSU standout, and quarterback Luke McCown, who played at Louisiana Tech and was in the Saints’ training camp this summer. … Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, a former LSU assistant, is the son of former Saints coach Dick Nolan. … Wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie starred at LSU from 1973-76, while tight ends coach Chris Scelfo was Tulane’s head coach from 1998-2006.

Compiled by Sheldon Mickles