Saints defense faces top flight challenge vs Falcons

The Saints vs. Falcons rivalry has only gotten better in recent years with the success of both franchises. Atlanta made it to the NFC Championship game last season, and boats another playoff contending team in 2013.

"It's a team in your division, a team that played really well last year and had a fantastic season," Sean Payton said.

"It's a tough challenge right to start, so we are going to have to have a good work week and play really well."

And with several big name and Pro Bowl talents on offense, the Falcons aren't shy in spreading the wealth.

"Julio Jones is extremely fast, big play guy," safety Roman Harper said. "Roddy White's the ultimate, consistent, nice, he's still got wheels, and always catches the ball and makes plays, and of course, Tony Gonzales, he's the best of all time, so they've got weapons, and now they've got Steven Jackson, another weapon to this offense, so they're definitely gonna spread it out there and throw it around a little bit."

So how does the Saints defense plan to keep the Dirty Birds grounded?

"By attacking their offensive line and getting pressure on the quarterback," linebacker Curtis Lofton said. "And not letting Matt Ryan sit back there and get comfortable, always make him move his feet throughout the pocket, and stopping the run, making them one-dimensional."

Cornerback Keenan Lewis added, "Gotta come out and play your game and be confident in what you do, and we'll match up perfect."

Last season, the Atlanta Falcons ranked in the top 10 in every major offensive category. All signs point to another possible shootout in the Dome Sunday, but the Black & Gold "D" will at least do its part to slow down the Dirty Birds' offensive attack, and helping that cause would be the return of Junior Galette and Martez Wilson, both of whom said today they feel ready and more importantly that they expect to play this weekend.