Atlanta Falcons: The team’s run game is missing in action after having just 26 yards — 16 by quarterback Matt Ryan — in the 31-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving night. Then throw in the six sacks, and you have an offensive line is under fire. “Obviously when you have a run-game performance like we did, there’s a lot to look at and a lot that needs our attention and our work, because that was considerably below the line,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters. “That was also the same thing in pass protection. To have six sacks in the game and have the run game that we did, that’s not going to get the job done.” The line has struggled since losing starting guards Andy Levitre (triceps) and Brandon Fusco (ankle) with season-ending injuries.
Carolina Panthers: A three-game losing streak could prompt coach Ron Rivera to feel some heat down the stretch of the season. The two-time NFL Coach of the Year is working for a new owner in David Tepper, who may not have the same type of patience former owner Jerry Richardson did. Rivera feels the urgency — not over job security but with turning around the fortunes of the team. “It’s difficult. This is a result of losing,” Rivera told reporters one day after a 30-27 loss to the Seattle Seahawks “If you win, it’s a whole different conversation that I’m having right now. But that’s just the way it is, and this is the conversation because we did have those critical mistakes at the wrong time.”
New Orleans Saints: Quarterback Drew Brees is enjoying an epic season at age 39 in which he has completed 76.4 percent of his passes for 3,135 yards with 29 touchdown passes against two interceptions. So naturally, he had fun with the situation upon hearing that coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys — New Orleans’ opponent on Thursday — said Brees plays like he is 23. “I feel 25. I don’t feel 23,” Brees said on a conference call. “I mean mind over matter. You cannot stop the aging process, but I think you can delay it a little. I am having fun playing the game and I have a definite routine. It takes a lot of time. Not just the time to prepare for the opponent — talking film work and studying the plan, practice time and all that — but the time it takes to recover and take care of your body and the maintenance and the weight room and all those things.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Receiver DeSean Jackson is scheduled to get a second opinion of a left thumb injury that is hindering him. Jackson visited with a local hand specialist on Monday and will fly to New York on Tuesday for another exam, according to coach Dirk Koetter. Jackson had just three catches for 19 yards in Sunday’s 27-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers and could be jeopardy of missing the upcoming game against the Carolina Panthers. On another note, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s sack against the 49ers pushed his season count to 10.5, making him the first Tampa Bay player since Simeon Rice (14 in 2005) to reach double digits.
—Field Level Media