A pair of NFC South rivals square off on Sunday when the Atlanta Falcons take on the host New Orleans Saints. While this has been a good game in seasons past, this one could be a laugher, as Atlanta comes into the contest on a six-game losing streak while New Orleans has six straight victories.
New Orleans is currently on top in the NFC South with its 7-1 record, with Carolina two games back at 5-3. The Saints are behind the 8-0 San Francisco 49ers in the race for the top record in the NFC, with Green Bay at 7-2 close behind. Atlanta is in a different race, tied for the third-worst record in the league at 1-7, behind only the 0-8 Cincinnati Bengals and the 1-8 Washington Redskins.
The moneyline for this contest has the Atlanta Falcons +575 and the New Orleans Saints -850. New Orleans is a 14-point favorite playing at home, while the over/under for this game has been set at 51.5.
Rearranging The Chairs?
There was some speculation that head coach Dan Quinn wouldn’t make it to this game since Atlanta owner Arthur Blank talked of evaluating the coaching staff during the just-past bye week for the team. Instead, Quinn made a switch, moving wide receivers coach Raheem Morris to work with the team’s secondary, and making running backs coach Dave Brock to wide receivers coach and assistant Bernie Parmalee to running backs coach. The Falcons have allowed 261.1 passing yards and 31.3 points per game, so it will be interesting to see if the moves pay off at all.
Atlanta does get Matt Ryan back under center for this one after he sat out their last game with an ankle injury. On the season, Ryan has thrown for 2,170 yards and 15 touchdowns, though he does have eight interceptions and has been sacked 14 times in his last four outings. The Falcons may be going to the air more in this one, with running back Ito Smith going on injured reserve this week, and to try to get the ball in the hands of their best playmaker, Julio Jones (50 catches, 712 yards, four touchdowns).
The Saints have yet to lose a game at home this season, though they’ve had some close calls outside of their 31-9 rout of Arizona two weeks ago. Drew Brees looked like he hadn’t missed a beat in his return to the field following thumb surgery, going 34-of-43 for 373 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The Saints are expected to get another weapon back this week, with Alvin Kamara coming back after missing two games. Kamara has rushed for 373 yards and a touchdown as well as making 33 catches for 276 yards and another score this season.
The New Orleans defense ranks fifth in the league, allowing 316.5 yards per game. The Saints are also one of 10 teams in the league allowing fewer than 20 points a game. Defensive end Cameron Jordan has been wreaking havoc this season, leading the Saints with eight sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Safety Vonn Bell and linebacker Demario Davis lead the team with 52 tackles apiece.
Atlanta has put up a fight in many of its losses, but often it doesn’t come until after it has fallen behind. The Falcons can’t afford to do that against the Saints, especially on the road, because New Orleans can turn a small lead into a big one in a flash. New Orleans shouldn’t have much of a problem in this one, as Brees has another big day, but this spread is a little too big for me. I’m taking Atlanta +14 to at least stay close at the end.