FLOWERY BRANCH — A look at the teams on the Falcons’ schedule and how they have reconstructed their roster since the season’s end. We’re up to Game 15, when the Falcons travel to face the New Orleans Saints on Christmas Eve
GAME 15 Falcons at New Orleans 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24
No longer with the Saints: S Jairus Byrd, OG Jahri Evans, OG Tim Lelito, CB, B.W. Webb, RB Tim Hightower, WR Brandin Cooks and LB Kasim Edebali.
Key free agent signings/pickups: RB Adrian Peterson, OG Larry Warford, LB A.J. Klein, WR Ted Ginn Jr., LB Manti T’eo, LB Alex Okafor and QB Chase Daniel.
New Orleans Saints’ 2017 NFL draft
|1||11||Marshon Lattimore||CB||Ohio State|
|3||103||Trey Hendrickson||DE||Florida Atlantic|
|6||196||Al-Quadin Muhammad||DE||Miami (Fla.)|
Weaknesses: The Saints moved to improve their rushing attack by signing Peterson and adding Kamara in the draft. They were 31st in kickoff return yardage and the defense was ranked 27th overall total yards allowed at 375.4 yards per game.
Strengths: Brees is still dangerous as the Saints were No. 1 in total yards per game at 426. The play of receivers Michael Thomas and Willie Snead made the Saints comfortable enough to trade Cooks. Peterson and Mark Ingram should provide a better rushing attack with Kamara talking on the old Reggie Bush/third down role. A more balanced offensive attack will keep the shaky defense off the field more.
Comment: The Saints finished 9-7 for the third consecutive season which led to a shake up on the coaching staff. Former defensive line coach Bill Johnson’s contract expired and he landed with the St. Louis Rams. The Saints need to make major strides of defense to break their recent cycle of losing.
Falcons at Miami Dolphins at 7 p.m. Aug. 10
Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers at 4 p.m. Aug. 20
Arizona Cardinals at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 26
Jacksonville Jaguars at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 31
Sept. 10 at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., Fox
Sept. 17 Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m. NBC
Sept. 24 at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. Fox
Oct. 1 Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m., CBS
Oct. 8 BYE
Oct. 15 Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS
Oct. 22 at New England Patriots, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Oct. 29 at New York Jets, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 5 at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 12 Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Nov. 20 at Seattle Seahawks (Mon) 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Nov. 26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 3 Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 7 New Orleans Saints (Thur), 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFL Network/Amazon
Dec. 18 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mon). 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Dec. 24 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 31 Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox