Falcons vs. Saints 2014 picks and predictions: New Orleans picked to stay atop NFC South
The Saints are in control, and the Falcons are motivated to pull off a road upset. Whatever the outcome, it will have major implications for the postseason within the division.
The NFC South is up for grabs, and both the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints are in the mix to claim the division title. For Atlanta to overtake the division-leading Saints, it must win this matchup and defeat the Carolina Panthers in Week 17. Winning the NFC South is the only way either team will make the playoffs, so this game figures to have all the intensity of a game played in January.
The Falcons (5-9) are struggling with injuries among several key players, but none is more notable than the hip ailment plaguing superstar wideout Julio Jones. The receiver was forced out of action in a Dec. 8 game against the Green Bay Packers and missed the Week 15 tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In Jones’ absence, Harry Douglas had a breakout game against Pittsburgh with 10 catches for 131 yards.
On the other sideline, the Saints (6-8) are coming off a 31-15 thrashing of the hapless Chicago Bears on Dec. 15. They’ll look to ride that momentum with a victory on Sunday. That, plus a Panthers loss, would clinch the division for New Orleans.
Last time these two rivals played, the Falcons won in overtime. However, that was all the way back in Week 1 and in Atlanta. This time around, the oddsmakers like the Saints at the Superdome. According to OddsShark, they’re 7-point home favorites with the over-under set at 56 in what could be a high-scoring affair.
Experts agree that the Saints should have the edge in this one. It’s a landslide at ESPN, whose crew of 13 are all picking the home squad. CBS Sports’ eight-man team chose New Orleans by a 7-1 margin.
Here at SB Nation, New Orleans was the near-unanimous pick, with all but one expert on the panel going the Saints’ way:
|Ryan Van Bibber||Stephen White||Joel Thorman||David Fucillo||Danny Kelly||PFT Commenter||Matt Ufford||OddsShark Computer|
|ATL @ NO||ATL||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|