The Falcons come into this NFC South clash having seen some of their recent momentum take a hit with a 19-13 loss to the Panthers in Week 8.
The game marked the second contest star receiver Calvin Ridley has missed in the last three, and his announcement earlier this week that he’ll be stepping away from football indefinitely for personal reasons certainly reduces the overall upside of Atlanta’s passing attack.
The Saints have some issues of their own following a 36-27 win over Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 8. What was an otherwise jubilant victory over the defending Super Bowl champions was sullied partly by the fact Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury against the team that drafted him first overall back in 2015.
With Taysom Hill unavailable for last Sunday’s game due to a concussion, Trevor Siemian stepped in and put forth a competent performance that helped produce a victory.
That pushed New Orleans’ record to 5-2, just a game back of the Buccaneers in the win column in the NFC South. With the Saints fully in contention, coach Sean Payton appears set to stick with the hot hand and turn the reins of the offense over to Siemian in Week 9.
That comes as somewhat of a surprise as Hill, who suffered his head injury in a Week 5 win over Washington, is expected to return on Sunday. However, knowing Payton, it’s very likely we see Hill take some snaps at quarterback as well.
Please note that all odds are current as of 3 PM EST on Friday, November 5.
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Falcons vs Saints Prediction
Without Ridley available, the Falcons’ passing game’s most explosive player is easily rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, who had a quiet Week 8 but furnished a combined 16-282-1 line over the prior pair of contests. Russell Gage and Tajae Sharpe are currently operating as the top two wideouts, but Matt Ryan also gets plenty of help in the pass-catching department from his backfield.
Running backs Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson are excellent receivers in their own right, with Patterson actually having played wideout for the majority of his career until this season. The duo has already combined for 55 receptions and their skill sets mesh well against a Saints defense that’s the league’s second-stingiest unit against the run on a yards-per-game basis (79.4 RYPG).
With the short pass often a better alternative to a rush attempt against New Orleans’ defense, Falcons coach Arthur Smith could well opt to keep both his backs busy from a pass-catching perspective Sunday.
On the other side, Trevor Siemian will be looking to pick up where he left off last week. The Northwestern product completed 16-of-29 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in relief of Jameis Winston in a 36-27 win over the Buccaneers.
Atlanta has been very effective defending the pass of late, however, allowing the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (192.0) in its last three contests. Though, Zach Wilson and Sam Darnold served as the opposing quarterbacks in two of those games, and the third, the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, actually put up 292 yards and four TDs against the Falcons.
On the ground, Alvin Kamara and recent returnee Mark Ingram face an Atlanta defense that’s allowed the seventh-most rushing yards per game overall (125.1), but just 94.5 per road contest. The Falcons have given up a healthy 43-325-2 line through the air to running backs, however, which could certainly bode well for two players like Kamara and Ingram that boast highly successful resumes in that area.
While both these teams know each other well, the Falcons are running a new offense this season with key offseason arrivals Davis, Patterson and Pitts currently spearheading things. Atlanta’s defensive coaching staff is also facing the Saints and their offense for the first time.
I see each team doing enough here to put some points on the board, but New Orleans ultimately prevailing in a close game.
Prediction: Saints 24, Falcons 21
Falcons vs Saints Best Bets
Best Bet: Falcons +6 (-105) at Betfred
As already detailed in the game prediction, I see the Falcons keeping this game relatively close before likely falling short.
After a rough start to the season, the Falcons have won their last two road games. Their last two defeats have been by four and six points, and their last five games overall have been decided by margins of 3, 4, 7, 2, and 6 points.
With both teams sporting offenses at less than full strength, I’m in the camp of the Falcons covering as our NFL pick of the day.
Best Bet: Over 41.5 Total Points (-105) at Betfred
I am not very comfortable with the over here after Payton’s decision to start Trevor Siemian over Taysom Hill, but at least Hill is expected play and can give this offense another dynamic if Siemian struggles.
As implied in the game prediction, I don’t envision an overly high-scoring game, however, this is a very modest threshold to eclipse, even with the Falcons and Saints missing their top receivers.
Three of the last four games for both the Falcons and Saints have finished over this total. Atlanta has allowed 48 and 28 points in its last two true road games, while New Orleans has allowed 27 points in each of its last two home games.
Additionally, from a longer-term view, it’s worth noting that no team has seen its home games hit the over more than the Saints (76-53-2) since 2006, the year Payton took the reins as head coach.