On Sunday, the New Orleans Saints host the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC South showdown with playoff implications on the line. Currently, the Saints are on top of the division with the tie breaker over Carolina and up one game on Atlanta. Neither team can clinch the division with a win this weekend, but whomever falls short in this game will most likely lose any realistic shot of winning the NFC South. With 3 teams fighting for the division and the 2 NFC Wild Card spots, the winner of this game will definitely position themselves for a potential home game in the first round of the playoffs. Kickoff inside the Superdome is at 1 PM ET.
This is the 98th game between these two teams. Atlanta leads the all-time series with a record of 52-45. Over the last 10 games, Atlanta is 6-4 against the Saints and have won 3 straight in this series. Since 2006, the Saints are 11-3 at home against Atlanta, but are 23-25 all-time when hosting the Falcons.
Atlanta (9-5) is 5-2 on the road and comes into this matchup having won 4 of their last 5 games. They defeated the Saints two weeks ago and look to sweep them for the second consecutive season. If the Falcons can win, they will position themselves at the top of the division if Carolina loses this weekend. Either way, a win this weekend sets them up to fight for the division against Carolina next weekend.
The Saints (10-4) are 6-1 at home and look to get revenge against the Falcons. New Orleans has won 3 of their last 5 games, but suffered 2 losses to other NFC playoff contenders in the Falcons and the Rams. Those losses could play a factor in where New Orleans finishes in the playoff seeding whether they win or lose this weekend. New Orleans has missed the playoffs for the last 3 years and hasn’t had a late-season game this meaningful since the 2013 playoffs.
The spread opened with the Saints favored by 6 points and it remains unchanged. The Over/Under opened at 53 points and it has come down slightly to 52.5 total points.
I think that the Saints will get this win at home, but I don’t see them beating the Falcons by a touchdown or more. Over the last 10 head-to-head meetings, the Falcons have only lost to the Saints by more than 6 points on one occasion. That was back in 2015 when the Saints won 31-21.
This weekend, I believe Atlanta will keep the game close and even have a chance to pull out the victory late in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately, they will fall a little short of their goal and the Saints will win at home by a score of 27-24.
The Saints running back duo of Ingram and Kamara will be the difference in this game. For the first time in over 40 years, two running backs from the same backfield have made the Pro Bowl. That’s how special this tandem is. They didn’t get to show their stuff in the first game against Atlanta two weeks ago because Kamara was taken out of the game due to a concussion.
This weekend, I expect these Saints to break 175 total yards with their 2 running backs. Kamara will give the Falcons defense fits and Ingram will punch the ball into the endzone when at the goal line. The 1-2 punch of Kamara and Ingram will also catch plenty of passes out of the backfield as Brees capitalizes on any mismatches against the defense.
For the Falcons, Matt Ryan will have to take better care of the ball. He threw 3 picks in their first encounter. I see him being more careful and utilizing his weapons like running back Freeman and receivers Jones and Sanu. Atlanta made a late season surge last year to get into the playoffs and head to the Super Bowl. They are hoping to do the same thing this year, but the loss this weekend will crush those dreams.
Another key for the Saints to win this game is to cut down on penalties. 2 weeks ago, the Saints had 11 penalties for 82 yards in their game against Atlanta. I believe that they will be more disciplined this weekend and get the close win.
Atlanta is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games and 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog. The Underdog is 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings between these two teams.
The Falcons have been playing good football over the last 6 weeks, but they will run into a tough divisional foe who has just as much talent as they do. I expect the Saints to learn from their mistakes in the first game between these two teams. I also expect the Saints offense to look more dominant with a healthy Kamara in the backfield. Atlanta will do their best to stop the Saints running backs, but then Brees will pick up the slack. New Orleans will win this hard fought game and effectively cement a playoff spot.