The 2022 NFL season is upon us! The Atlanta Falcons will start the season at home against NFC West rival the New Orleans Saints Sunday, September 11th at noon CST on FOX. This is the first time since 2008 (his rookie year) that Matt Ryan won’t be the QB for the Falcons. Marcus Mariota signed with the Falcons in the off-season and will get the start on opening day. The Falcons will try to turn things around after going 7-10 last year.
In another change of events, it’s the first time since 2006 that Sean Payton won’t be the head coach of the Saints (minus the suspension in 2012). Payton will be doing commentary for FOX. Dennis Allen was promoted from defensive coordinator to take over coaching duties this year for the Saints. The Saints look to build off of last year, going 9-8
Behind Mariota will be former WR turned RB Cordarrelle Patterson. Second-year TE Kyle Pitts, WRs Olamide Zaccheau, and rookie Drake London round out the starters at the skill positions.
Mariota didn’t play much last year for the Raiders, but for his career, he’s thrown for 13,437 yards and 77 touchdowns and is just 28 years old. Patterson led the team a year ago with 153 carries for 618 yards and six TDs. Pitts had a great rookie campaign, hauling 68 catches for 1,026 yards but only found the end zone once. The Falcons will be without WR Calvin Ridley all year after he was suspended for betting on football games.
Jameis Winston is back at the helm for the Saints after suffering an ACL injury last year. He’ll have Alvin Kamara (potential pending suspension) and Mark Ingram II in the backfield. Winston will also have Michael Thomas back, who’s been battling injuries at WR. He’ll also have rookie Chris Olave to throw to.
Winston cut down his interceptions to just three last year while throwing for 14 touchdowns and 1,170 before going down with the injury in week five last year. Kamara rushed for 898 yards and four TDs, while Ingram went for 554 yards and two scores.
The Falcons will look to be better on defense this year. Last year they allowed 27 points a game.
Written by Garin Turner