Against The Spread: Saints -3 (-115)/Falcons +3 (-105)
Moneyline: Saints (-171)/Falcons (+145)
Total: 46 — Over 46 (-110)/Under 46 (-110)
Implied Team Totals: Saints 24.5, Falcons 21.5
The Saints have won eight straight games, including two without Drew Brees under center. They will look to make it nine in a row with a road victory over the Falcons, a team they beat at home back in Week 10.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are 4-2 under interim head coach Raheem Morris, who is coaching for a full-time job more so than a Wild Card berth at this juncture. A Saints victory will put them that much closer to an NFC South title with Tampa Bay on a bye and reeling.
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Saints Falcons Key Injuries
Saints CB Janoris Jenkins rejuvenated his career after leaving the Giants for the Saints. However, he is on this week’s injury report with a knee injury.
In the past four games, the Saints’ defense is playing as one of the best, if not the best unit in the NFL. They have given up fewer than 13 points in each of their past four games, including three in the single-digits. A drastic turnaround considering how they opened the year.
Jenkins has been a tremendous part of their success. He already has three picks on the year including one in each of his past two games, even taking one to the house back in the season opener.
Jenkins is Pro Football Focus’ 10th-best corner thus far in 2020, picking up the slack from Marshon Lattimore’s surprisingly regressive campaign. Lattimore is PFF’s 71st-ranked corner, a big-time drop off from his usual top-end status.
Falcons WR Julio Jones missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and remains up in the air to play in Sunday’s tilt with the Saints. Jones initially suffered his latest (hamstring) injury back in Week 11’s loss to New Orleans.
If Jones sits or is limited, the Falcons have little to no shot to win this game. Sure, they wallopped the Raiders last week, but they are a team that plays down to their opponents.
The reason why Jones is so important to the Falcons, especially this season, is Matt Ryan. Ryan and the Atlanta offense is just not the same without their future Hall of Fame wideout in the lineup and healthy. Jones missed three games due to injury this year and was clearly limited in two others.
In those five outings, Ryan has thrown for fewer than 285 yards in all of them, going for fewer than 238 yards in four of those five. Moreover, Ryan has thrown for fewer than two touchdowns in all five of those matchups, including three games with zero scores and a 3:5 TD/INT ratio overall.
It is imperative that Jones not only returns but returns healthy.
Saints Falcons Players to Watch
Falcons WR Calvin Ridley must pick up the slack if Julio Jones sits or is limited with his hamstring injury this week.
While Ridley managed five catches for 90 yards in his last meeting with the Saints back in Week 11, he’s had regular success against them in the past as well.
In his four meetings with the Saints preceding 2020, Ridley has gone for at least seven receptions and 91 yards three times with one game over 140 receiving yards.
And although he has not scored in each of his past three meetings with the Saints, Ridley scored four total touchdowns in his first two games of his career facing them.
Ridley will get Janoris Jenkins in coverage this week. While Jenkins is outstanding, Ridley went 5/90/0 against him in Week 11.
Saints TE Jared Cook is in desperate need of a get-right game. While he opened the year strong, Cook has been a non-factor in each of his past four games.
In each of his past four games since Week 9, Cook has fewer than three targets, two receptions, and 30 yards in all of them, completely blanking twice. He also has not scored in that period.
The Falcons are allowing the sixth-most receptions (61), the fifth-most yards (645), and the second-most touchdowns (8) to tight ends in 2020.
Cook’s regression is all not on him. Since Taysom Hill has been under center, even Alvin Kamara is invisible in the passing game. In Week 11, Kamara recorded his first career game without a catch, then logged one reception for negative yardage in Week 12. Yikes.
With Hill as the New Orleans QB1, your normal productive skill position players from the Saints are stranded on the island of misfit toys — pardon the Christmas pun. But the Saints are still winning, which is what matters.
Saints Falcons Weather Report
The weather at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will not come into play because it is a dome field.
Saints Falcons Bet Tips
BEST BET: Saints (-171)
While this could be a trap game on the road for the Saints, who are on an eight-game winning streak, I can’t see the Falcons pulling out a win unless Julio Jones is active and fully healthy.
If you’ve read this betting preview in its entirety, you’d see that I have brought up the Falcons offense with and without Jones seemingly in abundance, for good reason. They are a different team without him.
While the Falcons did blowout the Raiders last week, it was because their defense stepped up under Raheem Morris, who is 4-2 as interim head coach. One of his losses was against this Saints team in Taysom Hill’s first start.
One of the things the Saints do best is stopping the run. Consequentially, the Falcons are one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL, averaging 103.5 yards per game, good for the 10th fewest in the league.
If Jones is out and the Saints can’t effectively run the ball even if Todd Gurley plays through his ailing knee injury, the Saints’ defense will once again smother the Falcons’ offense en route to a ninth consecutive win.
The Saints are 5-1 straight up versus the Falcons in their past six meetings.
CONSIDER: Under 46 (-110)
If you read my best bet blurb above, you’d see many reasons why I believe the Saints will win. You can relate that to why I believe this game will go Under as well. There should not be a lot of points scored in this one on either end.
While the Saints defense is playing as one of the best in the NFL at the moment, the Falcons aren’t too shabby either with Morris controlling things for Atlanta.
The Under is 4-1 in Atlanta’s past five games.
The Under is 4-0 in the Saints’ past four games.
The Under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings between these two clubs.
CONSIDER: Falcons +3 (-105)
This is one of the few times where I can make a strong case for both sides to win. While I strongly believe the Saints will win their ninth in a row, if they are going to drop a game, this is it.
The Saints are on the road facing a familiar foe without their QB1. And while Taysom Hill is getting the job done, if this game somehow turns into a shootout, I don’t think he can keep up as a thrower.
Also, the Falcons are 4-2 under Raheem Morris, and outside of the Saints game a few weeks back, played well in all six games.
In their two losses under Morris, they were trampled by the Saints but only lost by one point to the Lions. The Falcons are a good football team, so I can’t blame anyone for taking their Moneyline or the points this week.
This is not my best bet because I think the Saints are flat out better. They have the better defense, running game, and head coach. A recipe for success in the NFL.
Anthony Cervino is 31-33-1 on his NFL Best Bets in 2020.
Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter.
Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation.
15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019)
| 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020)
| 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).
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