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Falcons' Smith relies on bend-don't-break strategy vs. Saints

  • By Dan Hanzus NFL.com
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The Atlanta Falcons still can repeat as NFC South champions this season, but they'll have to figure out a way to beat the surging Saints in New Orleans on Monday night to do it.

This won't be easy, especially when you consider that Drew Brees and the Saints' offense are on one of the most prolific rolls in recent memory.

“You can’t stop them; you’ve just got to slow them down,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said Thursday, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Good luck with that. Brees has looked unstoppable for large stretches during the Saints' six-game win streak. He's coming off perhaps the best statistical game of his career (32 of 40, 412 yards, five TDs, 0 INT) in a Week 15 blowout of the Vikings. He needs just 307 yards passing to break Dan Marino's all-time single-season yardage mark.

“There is such good solid personnel around Drew, you’ve got to move into some other areas like what they like to do in certain situations with certain personnel,” defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. “You have to concentrate on situation football. But boy, there are too many productive players to focus in on one here or there. The situations will allow you to do that better than just going in and saying ‘let’s stop Jimmy Graham’ or ‘let’s stop (Darren) Sproles.’ ”

The Falcons (9-5) can take the division with wins over the Saints and Buccaneers coupled with a New Orleans (11-4) stumble against Cam Newton and the Panthers in Week 17. The chances aren't good, but there's a chance nonetheless.

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