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Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Strength on strength for Saints, Falcons

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

The two best teams in the NFC South meet on Sunday when the Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints.

We’ll see strength on strength in many areas, but the best matchup of all might be the left side of the Saints’ offensive line against the right side of Atlanta’s defensive line.

ESPN Stats & Information shared some great numbers that demonstrate just how strong both areas are. When running to the left, New Orleans’ Darren Sproles is averaging 8.1 yards per carry and Pierre Thomas is averaging 7.2 yards. They rank second and third in the league among running backs with at least 10 rushes in that direction.

When they’re running to the left, the Saints usually are going behind left guard Carl Nicks and left tackle Jermon Bushrod. But Nicks and Bushrod will get a strong test against the Falcons.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux and defensive end John Abraham are the starters on the right side of Atlanta’s defensive line. Abraham moves around frequently and Ray Edwards sometimes lines up on the right side and Kroy Biermann often rotates into the lineup.

Atlanta has been particularly good at stopping runs to the right side of its defense. In those situations, the Falcons are allowing 3.72 yards per carry. That ranks ninth in the NFL.