Atlanta Falcons Need to Topple Taysom Hill to Squash New Orleans Saints

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The New Orleans Saints have a 35% chance to make the NFL playoffs. That chance can only be cashed-in if they beat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. This moment could not be any more perfect for Arthur Smith and company. The Atlanta Falcons have a chance to, first, go into a crucial off-season with a win. Second, they have another opportunity to evaluate some key players against a playoff-caliber team. Third, Atlanta can sweep the Saints for the first time since their Super Bowl run in 2016. Fourth, and most importantly, the Atlanta Falcons can send the Saints home for the winter by knocking them out of playoff contention. But to do that, the Atlanta Falcons have to contain backup quarterback Taysom Hill. 

To Squash Saints, Falcons Have to Contain Taysom Hill

Falcons Games Must be Circled for Taysom Hill

Hill has only started eight games at the quarterback position since coming into the league in 2017. In these games, he’s got a 6-2 record and is 2-0 against the Atlanta Falcons. Both games were in 2020 after Drew Brees broke his ribs. Falcons fans thought that with Brees out, they could steal one from the playoff contenders. That was not the case. 

Hill came in for both games against Atlanta and carved their struggling defense to shreds. Sean Payton put together a game plan that took advantage of a struggling secondary and defensive line. Hill came away from both games with a completion percentage above 70% and passer ratings above 100. 

Jameis Winston is gone for the season. Ian Book and Trevor Siemian have been underwhelming in their appearances this season. The playoff hopes for the Saints fall into the waiting arms of their swiss-army knife. 

Dulling the Swiss-Army Knife

Hill’s skill-set is unique to the NFL. He can run as fast as most skill positions while also getting the ball downfield to his receivers. However, the Saints have sustained injuries at crucial spots coming into this Sunday. Two of the main ones coming on the offensive line. Both tackles, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramcyzk are questionable to play. Their secondary receiving option, Tre’Quan Smith, is also questionable to play. 

But coming back to replace his production, right on time, is running back Alvin Kamara. Last week, Kamara started his 2022 with 100 scrimmage yards and the go-ahead touchdown against the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons defense started theirs by allowing 233 yards on the ground while getting bullied by the Buffalo Bills. And that is where the problem lies for the Atlanta Falcons. 

This Atlanta front seven does not do well against quarterbacks with running ability. Falcons fans remember how Sam Darnold and Chubba Hubbard ran for 203 yards in Mercedez-Benz Stadium. The defensive line, mostly Dante Fowler, Jr. and Steven Means, must keep Kamara and Hill contained. 

This poses a problem for the Falcons. Means and Fowler, Jr. have been nothing short of disappointing for this season. The Falcons have gotten the least amount of sacks by a mile for any team in the NFL. The Falcons have 17 as a team. The next team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, has 26. T.J. Watt has 21.5.

Teams are not afraid to run against this defense. Teams are not afraid to pass against this defense. Atlanta has to contain Payton’s attack if they want a shot to win. 

It’s Time for Arthur Smith to Rise Up

This can be the signature of a 2021 season that exceeded expectations. This team has handled the sudden loss of one of its main playmakers due to mental health issues. They have weathered a storm of disappointing performances and a lack of talent to put themselves in a position for a playoff spot late in the season. 

Now, Falcons fans are asking for the team and Arthur Smith to rise up one more time. One more time to beat their hated rival and to take the air out of their playoff sails for good. 

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