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At the start of the year, this might have looked like a game to circle on your calendar but in reality, it will likely be a dud. The Saints are maybe the best team in football at 7-1 while the Falcons are maybe the worst at 1-7. The Saints have won the last 3 games versus their division rival, including a sweep last year. This year, the Saints come in as heavy favorites -- favored by 13 points. Kickoff is Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This has been a lost season for the Falcons, who are just a few years removed from making the Super Bowl. They are 1-7 and in last place in the NFC South. They have lost 6 in a row and have been playing without their former MVP quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan will likely be back for this game, but honestly, they weren't very good when he was there either. But they are certainly better and more of a threat with Ryan under center.
The Saints are having a magical year. They have won 6 straight games and now they have their future hall of fame quarterback Drew Brees back from injury. Not that they missed a beat with backup Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, but they are certainly happy to have Brees back, who was great in his return 2 weeks ago versus Arizona. He and the Saints are coming off a bye week and should be ready to roll.
Falcons endure lost seasonThe Atlanta Falcons are 1-7 and in last place in the NFC South. They have lost 6 in a row and have been playing without their former MVP quarterback Matt Ryan. Just three years ago they were in the Super Bowl but it's been a steady decline since then. The season is pretty much over and its likely there will be huge changes in the off season, beginning with the coach. But for now, its about respectability. Ryan will likely be back for this game, so that's a plus. We all know this team has talent, so they are dangerous. In their last game before the bye, they almost took out Seattle, losing 27-20. They are not a team to be overlooked, despite their record.
The Falcons offense has been disappointing and bad in the red zone. They average 21 points per game, which is 20th in the NFL. But they gain an average of 405 total yards per game, which is 7th. That includes a league-high 336 ypg in the air and just 68 ypg on the ground, which is 27th in the NFL. Defensively, they are not good. The Falcons give up 31 points per game, which ranks 30th. They allow 379 yards per game, which is 24th in the NFL. That includes 261 ypg in the air, which is 23rd, and just 118 ypg on the ground, which is 21st in the league.
Saints keep marching onAs stated at the outset, the Saints are having a magical year. Take away their hall of fame quarterback Drew Brees -- no problem. Take away their all-pro running back Alvin Kamara -- no problem. Its been a case of next man up as Teddy Bridgewater stepped in and led the charge when Brees went down and Latavius Murray stepped in when Kamara went down and the results have been the same -- wins. Brees is now back and Kamara is expected back for this game. They have won 6 straight games and are 7-1 on the year, tied for the best record in the NFL.
Last game, Brees' first back from injury, they flexed their muscles with a 31-9 win over the Cardinals. Brees was 34 for 43 for 373 yards with 3 touchdowns while Murray had 102 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown and 9 catches for 55 yards and a receiving touchdown.
The Saints offense has been good. They average 24 points per game, which is 15th in the NFL. They gain an average of 387 total yards per game, which is 14th. That includes 272 ypg in the air, which is 12th, and 114 ypg on the ground, which is 15th in the NFL. Defensively, they have also been good. The Saints give up 19 points per game, which ranks 10th. They allow 316 yards per game, which is 5th in the NFL. That includes 232 ypg in the air, which is 16th, and just 84 ypg on the ground, which is 4th in the league.
Trends are from Covers.com:
- The Favorite is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 meetings.
- Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
- Falcons are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a bye week.
- Falcons are 38-16 ATS in their last 54 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Take the Falcons getting the points. I'm sorry, but the Falcons are not this bad. They are clearly the most dangerous 1-7 team in the NFL. With Ryan back, they have the number 1 passing offense in the NFL. Now, their red-zone execution has been terrible and their defense has been awful, but they have the ability to move the ball against anyone. The Saints have largely played to the level of their competition, so I don't see them covering this huge nearly two touchdown spread. The underdog is 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 meetings between these two.
Prediction: Atlanta +13
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the over. The Falcons defense is terrible, so look for Brees and the Saints to roll up a lot of points, The Falcons have the No. 1 passing offense in the NFL so I expect them to be able to move the ball. The Saints offense has been very good, but it's been more of a bend don't break type unit as opposed to a dominating defense. The over is 4-1 in Falcons last 5 road games and 9-4 in their last 13 games following a bye week. Also, the over is 10-3 in Saints last 13 games following a bye week and 19-7 in their last 26 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game.