(1-1, 1-1 ATS)
New Orleans Saints
(2-0, 1-1 ATS)
The New Orleans Saints will play its second NFL betting battle at home this season in what might be the most important duel of the year against the Atlanta Falcons. Both of these teams are vying for first place in the crowded NFC South, and the winner of this season series figures to have a significant upper hand to try to host a playoff game.
The Falcons were the one of just two teams in Week 1 that didn’t score a touchdown. They certainly made up for it last week. Amazingly, after scoring just nine points against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, the Falcons are now seventh in the NFL in scoring at 25.0 points per game and sixth in total offense at 369.5 yards per game. The defense has been great as well, as the unit has only allowed two TDs and three field goals in two games. The question mark this week is going to be the health of RB Michael Turner. Turner suffered a groin injury last week and was replaced in the lineup by RB Jason Snelling, who ended up rushing for over 100 yards. Either way, the running game is going to have its work cut out for it. QB Matt Ryan and WR Roddy White have certainly done a lot of work together this year. Ryan has thrown for 477 yards and three TDs, while White has been on the receiving end of 20 passes for 189 yards and one of those touchdowns.
The Saints have a major problem in their rushing game right now. With RB Mike Bell leaving in the offseason, RB Lynell Hamilton getting injured for the year before training camp, RB PJ Hill losing his season early in the preseason, and now RB Reggie Bush fracturing his leg and missing at least the next month and a half, the ball really rests on the legs of RB Pierre Thomas. Thomas is leading the team in rushing with 117 yards, and he has contributed as the second leading receiver with 72 yards on a team high 11 catches, but this isn’t a good situation to be in. The good news is that QB Drew Brees would have no problem throwing the ball 50 times in a game if need be, and he might want to this week knowing how porous Atlanta’s secondary was last season. So far this year, Brees has done well, but he isn’t putting up those MVP type numbers as of yet. The former Purdue Boilermaker is completing 74.3 percent of his passes for 491 yards with three TDs and no picks. New Orleans has come up with two fairly strong defensive outings this year, which is going to be the key to this game and to the season. The team is averaging allowing just 15.5 points per game.
The Saints are still a significantly better team than Atlanta is, and it is going to show in this game. New Orleans won both games in this series last year, which really killed the Falcons come the push for the playoffs, and though this team in black and red is stronger than last year’s bunch, there isn’t going to be enough ammo to try to stop this passing attack of Brees and company. Go with the hosts for your NFL free picks in Week 3.
Selection: New Orleans Saints -4