New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
The New Orleans Saints look to strengthen their case for a first round playoff bye as they host their arch rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, on Monday Night Football. The Saints are -6.5 point favorites over the Falcons with an over/under point total set at 52.
The New Orleans Saints lost on opening night to the Green Bay Packers when the clock expired and they were inches short of the goal line but Sean Peyton’s team has lost just twice since and have looked as impressive as anyone this year. The Saints had one goal this season and that was to win the Super Bowl and while other teams did nothing during the lockout New Orleans had player run practices to get prepared for the coming year. Drew Brees is on pace to break Dan Marino’s single season yardage record and with plenty still to play for the Saints won’t be resting him. For the year Brees has competed 71.5 percent of his passes for 4,780 yards and 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions which puts him just 304 yards behind Marino. New Orleans has one of the deepest backfields in the NFL but Mark Ingram won’t be playing in this one as he’s still nursing a toe injury but Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and Chris Ivory are providing more than enough firepower and options. Jimmy Graham is the NFL season leader in touchdowns by a tight end with nine as he has 87 catches and 1,171 yards, sproles has 79 catches, and Marques Colston has 66 catches but the Saints have seven players with over 25 catches this year. Defensively New Orleans has 31 sacks, 15 fumble recoveries, and eight interceptions with a minus three turnover ratio while they allow 366.1 yards and 21.9 points per game. Roman Harper has 87 tackles and 7.5 sacks, Malcolm Jenkins has 76 tackles, and Patrick Robinson has three interceptions. New Orleans would like another chance to get the yard they came up short against the Packers.
The Atlanta Falcons have flown under the radar this year but regardless with a win in their final two games they clinch a playoff spot. Many thought Atlanta didn’t do enough to improve in the offseason but this is the best run of winning and playoff appearances in franchise history. Matt Ryan is the franchise and he has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,698 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Michael Turner continues to run hard as he’s averaging 4.1 yards per carry for 1,129 yards and nine touchdowns as he’s one of the few every down backs in the NFL. Roddy White has 85 catches for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns, Tony Gonzalez has 74 catches and seven touchdowns, and Julio Jones has 42 catches and five touchdowns. Defensively Atlanta has 30 sacks, 11 fumble recoveries, and 14 interceptions with a plus five turnover ratio while they allow 327.2 yards and 20.1 points per game. Curtis Lofton has 124 tackles, Sean Weatherspoon has 107 tackles, and John Abraham has 8.5 sacks. Atlanta has plenty to play for here as well as be inspired by the rivalry so look for the Falcons to be fired up from the get go.
New Orleans is 6-0 against the spread in their last six home games, 6-0 against the spread in their last six games as a favorite, and 8-1 against the spread in their last nine home games against a team with a winning road record. Atlanta is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games as a road underdog, 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against a team with a winning record, and 7-2 against the spread in their last nine road games against a team with a winning home record. The underdog has covered five in a row in this series and the road team has covered four of the last five.
The total in this one is set at an aggressive 52 and the first meeting this year only yielded 49 points in a game that went to overtime. While I don’t love the number, I will go with the over.