NFL Betting Favorite: Saints -1
The NFC South is one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. New Orleans leads the division by a half-game over the Falcons, but this weekend’s matchup in Atlanta will be crucial in deciding who has the upper hand. Drew Brees and the Saints have won four of the last five meetings between these two teams, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons are extremely tough to beat at home. This should be one of the best games of the weekend.
New Orleans has actually lost their last two road games, including a confusing loss at the hands of the lowly St. Louis Rams. The Saints are known for their great offense, and that is the case once again this year. New Orleans leads the league in total offense in 2011. The emergence of Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles has given this team a massive boost this year. Graham leads the team with 791 receiving yards. Sproles leads the team in both rushing yards as well as receptions. Drew Brees is completing 71% of his passes, and he already has 21 touchdown passes this year.
The Saints defense has improved the last couple years. This unit is solid along the defensive front, and they are good at pressuring the opposing quarterback. The Saints are a defense that runs a lot of different stunts to give the offense difficulty reading their blitz packages. One concerning statistic for the Saints is the fact that their top three tacklers are all defensive backs.
Atlanta started the season 2-3, but they have rattled off three straight wins. The offense hasn’t been nearly as strong as most expected it to be, but this weekend is a good opportunity for them to get back on track. Matt Ryan has taken a significant step backwards from last year, and that has been the biggest issue for the offense. Ryan has already thrown nine interceptions this year, which matches his total from last season. Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez give the Falcons a trio of pass catchers that most teams in the NFL have trouble matching up with. Michael Turner has actually improved on his numbers from last year, and the rushing attack has been solid.
The Falcons defense has been very good against the run, but they are a bit suspect against the pass. William Moore and Thomas DeCoud are two relatively inexperienced safeties who still must prove themselves in this league. It will be up to the Falcons front seven to put some pressure on Brees in this one, or it could be a long game for this Atlanta secondary.
This is a very big game for both teams. The Saints should be able to move the ball well against a suspect Falcons secondary. At the same time, I expect Matt Ryan and the Falcons to put up quite a few points. The over is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings between these two.
Free NFL Pick: Over 49.5
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