Saints vs. Falcons, 01/01/17 - Prediction & Preview
Written by: Stephen Sobek
New Orleans Saints (7-8 SU, 9-5-1 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (10-5 SU, 10-5 ATS)
NFL: Sunday, January 1 @ 4:25 p.m. ET
The Line: Atlanta Falcons -6.5 Total: 56
The New Orleans Saints will travel from one controlled environment to another to face the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome on Sunday afternoon. The Saints are eliminated from playoff contention, but they’ll still want to be at their best while taking on a division rival on the road. Atlanta has already clinched the NFC South and could be in contention for a home playoff game with a victory this week.
Clicking on Offense
Sean Payton’s New Orleans Saints have put together all the pieces on offense over the last two weeks. They’ve combined to tally 79 points versus the Cardinals and Buccaneers, both wins by one-touchdown margins. Drew Brees paces the NFL with 4,858 passing yards, so he’ll most likely reach the 5,000-yard threshold for the fifth time in his illustrious career. One thing is for sure: Brees has a ton of offensive weapons at his disposal. Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, and Willie Snead all have over 800 yards receiving for the Saints this year. Defenses can’t focus on only one of those guys at the risk of the other two exposing them.
Sunday’s 31-24 victory over the Buccaneers saw Mark Ingram enter the end zone twice on the ground for the first time this season. He posted 90 yards on 18 carries in the win, as the Saints rushed for 123 yards in total. Brees found Thomas and Cooks for 98 yards apiece, but the lone touchdown pass went to change-of-pace back Travaris Cadet. It was a complete team victory, as New Orleans never trailed during the 60 minutes. The effort comes a bit too late in terms of the playoff picture, but it is nice for the Saints to enter their last game of the season on a high note.
The Atlanta Falcons’ offense has been nothing short of elite throughout the entire season. They average the most points in the NFL, scoring 33.5 points per game. Matt Ryan is in consideration for the Most Valuable Player trophy, and for good reason. He’s compiled the third-most passing yards in the league with 4,613 while leading his team to the NFC’s second-best record. Take Matty Ice away from Atlanta and they aren’t even close to the same team. He’s been so good that the loss of Julio Jones for a few contests went almost unnoticed.
Jones was back in the huddle for Sunday’s win against Carolina on the road. The final score was 33-16 as Jones caught four footballs for a team-leading 60 receiving yards. Ryan found ten different guys to throw to including three tight ends and a fullback, which is almost unthinkable in today’s day and age. Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman provided a nice one-two punch out of the backfield last week, combining for 143 yards and a touchdown. Atlanta could be dangerous in the playoffs, so they’ll look to avoid injury versus the Saints on Sunday.
The Saints are:
- 5-14 ATS in their last 19 games in Week 17
The Falcons are:
- 5-0 ATS vs. a team with a losing record
- 4-0 ATS last 4 vs. NFC.
The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints face off for the second time this year in the last week of the regular season. The Falcons won by 13 all the way back in Week 3 in New Orleans. Times have changed, but one thing remains the same: Atlanta is the team to beat. I expect them to assert their dominance both through the air and on the ground en route to their 11th cover and victory of 2016-17.
The Pick: Atlanta Falcons -6.5
The Saints and Falcons matchup boasts the NFL’s highest Over/Under this week, and it isn’t even close. The total for this game is set at 56, over a touchdown more than the second-highest projection by oddsmakers this Sunday. That means that the teams must combine for two seven-point scores in each quarter just to keep pace. I really don’t see that happening, as the Under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings in the Georgia Dome between these two sides.
The Pick: Under 56
Confidence: 3/5 (spread) 3/5 (total)
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