The New Orleans Saints start off the 2022 regular season this Sunday in Atlanta as they take on the NFC South rival Falcons. Here are five things to look out for in this Week 1 matchup.
1) HOW WILL THOMAS AND THE WIDE RECEIVERS LOOK:
We already know about what Michael Thomas can do on the field when healthy and how talented former LSU Tiger Jarvis Landry is. There’s also rookie Chris Olave who will be a deep threat. These three receivers didn’t suit up for the Black and Gold last year and gives a huge boost to this room. This question is, are they on the same page with Jameis Winston? Thomas knows this offense that likely won’t change much, but this is Landy and Olave’s first year in the system.
2) DOES PITTS TAKE THAT PROJECTED NEXT STEP:
Atlanta tight end Kyle Pitts is considered a generational talent by many. He will have to be the focal point of the Falcons’ offense with no Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley being out for the year. The former Florida Gator can be put in many different spots across the field and has rookie Drake London and a 31-year-old Cordarrelle Patterson as other weapons for Marcus Mariota to get the ball to.
3) THE CHANGE AT SAFETY:
The safety room in New Orleans looks a lot different than it did in 2021. Malcolm Jenkins has retired and Marcus Williams signed with the Baltimore Ravens during the off-season. The new starters are another former Tiger in Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye, who was previously on the New York Jets. A few others who made the roster are long-time Saint P.J. Williams, an injury-plagued Justin Evans, and special teamers in J.T. Gray and Daniel Sorensen.
4) BATTLES IN THE TRENCHES:
Even with the loss of tackle Terron Armstead and rookie Trevor Penning being out to start the season, the Saints offensive line can still hold its own against the Falcons’ defensive line as they have standouts like All-Pro Ryan Ramczyk and a newly extended center in Eric McCoy. Atlanta’s line isn’t the core of their defense, but they’ve got a game-wrecker in the interior in Grady Jarrett. They had solid edge rushers last year like Dante Fowler Jr. but lost them to free agency.
5) DA’S APPROACH TO THIS GAME:
Dennis Allen’s failure in Oakland has folks worried about how 2022 will go for the Saints. He’s had plenty of time to develop and learn from his mistakes as he went under Sean Payton’s wing. Allen showed what he could do in the preseason and in the 9-0 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year when Payton was out with COVID.
Kickoff on Sunday for the game will be at 12:00 p.m.