Games between the Falcons and Saints rarely lack fireworks when they share the field. Although, you might not know that looking at the point spread between these two. Vegas opened the Saints up as a 10-point home favorite over the Falcons, and money quickly poured in on New Orleans, pushing the line all the way to two touchdowns. That shows the direction both teams have headed since they met for the first time all the way back in week 3.
Combining for 80 points, the only thing that could stop these offenses was time. New Orleans won the coin toss in overtime, quickly marched down the field and put the icing on the cake with a touchdown. The Falcons have never really recovered. They followed that game up with another heartbreaking loss to the Bengals on their way to a 1-4 start. The Saints, on the other hand, still have not lost.
New Orleans is looking for their 10th straight win on Thanksgiving night after dropping their opening game to the Buccaneers (of all teams). Led by the never-aging Drew Brees, their offense is as potent as ever, putting up scores of 48, 51 and 45 over the last three weeks. In their five home games, they have only been held under 40 points one time.
That doesn’t bode well for a defense that has shown scarce improvements since their last meeting. Even in one of their better outings of the season against the Cowboys, they allowed Dak Prescott to throw all over them in a 2-minute situation for the win. It’s been the trend all season; the pass-rush has been ineffective far too often, the secondary has taken ten steps back and tackling has been optional. All of that has to improve in order to avoid a 50-piece on national television from the NFL’s hottest team.
Meanwhile, the Saints have begun to figure it out defensively. In their last two games, the Bengals and Eagles combined for a mere 21 points while turning the ball over five times. Statistically, the Saints are the best at stopping the run; their pass rush has come alive and the secondary has been patched up through moves like acquiring Eli Apple. Combine that with the pressure opposing offenses face trying to keep up with Drew Brees, and you have a recipe for forcing big plays on the defensive side.
That will be something Matt Ryan and company will desperately try to avoid. In reality, the Atlanta offense will have to play perfectly if they even want to be in this game in the fourth quarter. They certainly have the weapons at the skill positions for that to happen, but the offensive line will have to cooperate. Pressure on Matt Ryan and an inability to establish a consistent run-game have been the two things preventing this offense from soaring on a weekly basis. New Orleans can stop the run in their sleep and have the talent up front to make it a long day for Ryan.
I would like to say the Falcons can hang in this one and make it competitive. After all, it is rare any time this game does not come down to the wire. However, I just do not see that happening. With Mark Ingram back in the lineup, the Saints can attack Atlanta any way they wish. The Falcons have shown several times this season their offense is not a dominant as it is hyped up to be. New Orleans will find a way to get some stops, even if they are not turnovers, and the Saints will score quickly on offense. Before you know it, you are going to wish that tryptophan had hit you a couple of hours earlier.
Falcons 21, Saints 41