The Saints at Falcons pick features two teams very familiar with each other, not only as NFC South foes but because they just met up in week 11, a 24-9 New Orleans win as -3.5 favorites. It was an understandable loss for Atlanta, since it was the first game for Taysom Hill at QB for the injured Drew Brees, and nobody really knew what to expect from the Saints offense.
In the week away from each other, New Orleans got by in a 31-3 win over a QB-less Broncos team while Atlanta took Las Vegas to the wood shed in a 43-6 beating. Sunday marks the second straight home game for the Falcons, while the Saints are on the road again as -3 point favorites. Atlanta didn’t show much in the first meeting, do they have a game plan for the rematch?
Another Big Day for Hill?
Taysom Hill struggled in the passing game last week against a decent Broncos defense, going just 9/16 for 78 yards and an INT. He did have two rushing scores though, which combined with the two in the first meeting with Atlanta gives Hill four TDs in his two starts. Hill was also much better vs. Atlanta’s #31 ranked passing defense the first game, going 18/23 for 233 yards.
One thing to expect in the Saints at Falcons pick is for Sean Payton to get Alvin Kamara more involved in the offense. Granted New Orleans is 2-0 since Brees went down, but Kamara was held without a reception for the 1st time in his career in the first meeting with Atlanta, and had 1 catch for -2 yards to go with just 54 yards rushing last week vs. Denver.
The real key to Sunday’s game for New Orleans is their rapidly improving defense, which has allowed a total of just 28 points the last four games. As a team the Saints have rattled off eight straight wins, making them hard to wager against giving just 3 points on Sunday. New Orleans is 4-1 on the road this season, and has beaten Atlanta in 5 of the last 6 meetings.
Atlanta Ready for Another Impressive Outing?
The Falcons toppled the Raiders 43-6 last week as +3.5 home underdogs. Despite what looks like would be a solid day from the Atlanta offense in putting up 40+ points, it was the much-maligned Falcons defense that led was the game changer in recovering 4 fumbles and intercepting David Carr once.
The Atlanta defense did give up a very efficient passing day to Hill in his first start, but now they have two weeks of game film to prepare around. The Saints had 166 yards on the ground in that first game, but Atlanta held the Raiders to just 40 yards last week and now have the #6 run defense in the NFL (100.3 ypg). Needing Hill to beat you through the air is a good spot to be in for Atlanta.
Of course one thing the Falcons need to do on Sunday is protect Matt Ryan, who was sacked 8 times by New Orleans two weeks ago. The Falcons had just 125 yards rushing and only 179 through the air in the win over the Raiders, but also put up 43 points without Julio Jones, who is expected back (hamstring) vs. the Saints. Atlanta may be without Calvin Ridley (ankle) and Todd Gurley (knee) however.
Free Saints at Falcons Pick
Just 54% of public bettors like the Saints despite their 8-game defense and #1 defense in the NFL. This does feel like a trip-up game for New Orleans, but the better wager in this contest is on the total. New Orleans does have that top defensive unit which is 5th vs. the pass and 2nd vs. the run. Atlanta is improving on that side of the ball as well, and when these two get together it’s usually been low scoring. 5 of the last 7 meetings have gone under the listed 46 point total.
Saints 20 – Falcons 21
Free Pick: Under 46