Opening Line: Falcons -6.5
Time: 4:25 PM EST Sunday January 1, 2017 on FOX
New Orleans Saints (7-8) vs. Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
The Saints are eliminated from the playoff picture, but they can finish the season .500 with a win over the Falcons. They have won two in a row and while Drew Brees leads a dynamic offense that ranks 2nd in the league in points per game the New Orleans’ defense only ranks 30th giving up an average of 27.7 points per game.
The Falcons are in the playoffs as the winner of the NFC South, but their seed and next opponent are not set. They can clinch the 2nd seed in the NFC with a few scenarios, but the easiest is if they get a win in this game. They have won four of their last five games and they have the highest scoring team in the league. While their defense only ranks 25th in opponents’ points allowed that unit has been solid in their three-game winning streak only giving up an average of 14.3 ppg.
Earlier this season in New Orleans the Falcons beat the Saints in a shootout 45-32.
In their last games the Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24 and the Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers 33-16.
On the season the Saints are 10-5 ATS with an O/U record of 8-7 and the Falcons are 10-5 ATS with an O/U record of 12-2-1.
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In the Saints win over the Bucs in their last game they racked up 417 yards and gave up 349 with their defense forcing two turnovers. Drew Brees leads the NFL in passing yards and passed for 299 yards with a TD and no INT in the win over Tampa Bay. He has a solid WR corps and got some help from the rushing game against the Bucs, as the Saints had 123 yards on the ground with RB Mark Ingram rushing for 90 yards averaging five yards per carry.
The Falcons only rank 26th in the league in pass defense and 16th in run defense, but overall their defense has played well in the last three games.
In the Falcons win over the Panthers in their last game they had 408 yards giving up 302 yards and they forced two turnovers. QB Matt Ryan is getting some MVP buzz and in the Carolina game he passed for 277 yards with two TD and no INT and his top target in Julio Jones ranks 3rd in the league in receiving yards. The RB duo of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combined to rush for 143 yards in the win over the Panthers.
New Orleans ranks a respectable 12th in the league defending the run, but only 30th defending the pass.
New Orleans at Atlanta Betting Trends
- The Saints are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 road games, 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games overall, and they have an Under record of 7-3 in their last 10 road games.
- The Falcons are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall, 4-9 ATS in their last 13 home games, and in their last 7 home games the total has gone Over every time.
- The underdog is 6-0 ATS in the last 6 games between these teams.
- In the last 7 games between these teams in Atlanta the Under record is 6-1.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Prediction
The Falcons easily dispatched of the Saints in New Orleans 45-32 running for 217 yards on the night. The Saints have improved their run defense significantly since that day holding seven of their last dozen opponents to under 100 yards, but Atlanta is a different animal then who they closed out the season against. The Falcons led the league in yards per play with 6.6 PP and while the Saints were not that far behind with a third ranked 6.2, the margin between the yardage that Atlanta allow per play offensively versus defensively is far more impressive. The Falcons can get the number 2 playoff seed and a bye with a win, so expect them to be fully motivated in this match.
Take Atlanta -6.5