The New Orleans Saints were perennial postseason contenders during the final three seasons with Drew Brees at quarterback.
Now, with down Jameis Winston at quarterback, the Saints will be hosting their division rival Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have struggled for most of the 2021 season, and while they have issues elsewhere on the roster, they - unlike the Saints - at least have a viable Pro Bowl-caliber starting quarterback in Matt Ryan. The Falcons and Saints typically play each other close, so it’s no surprise that most of the NFL world expects another close contest on Sunday. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Saints are currently 5.5 home favorites, and while most predicts like the Saints chances at eating a “W” on Sunday, they don’t like the Saints chances at covering the spread.
Nobody ever wants to pick the Atlanta Falcons, but sometimes the oddsmakers and the public leave us no choice. In this case, almost nobody on the panel is willing to lay 5.5 points with a New Orleans Saints team that has arguably been playing above its head and is without starting quarterback Jameis Winston.
“It’s hard to really pick either side of this contest with any real confidence,” Davenport admitted. “The Falcons had all kinds of trouble moving the ball last week without Calvin Ridley, while the Saints just lost Winston to a torn ACL in last week’s big win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“With that said, the Saints were 29th in total offense even with Winston on the field, and given that 5.5 points is just too many to lay here. New Orleans has a good chance to win this game, but covering is another matter.”
This could also be somewhat of a trap game for the Saints, who are still far from 100 percent healthy and are coming off that win over the Bucs while potentially thinking about a tough stretch starting with the Titans in Nashville in Week 10.
Score Prediction: Saints 21, Falcons 20
The Saints gave the Buccaneers all they could handle in Week 8. Now they face a Falcons team that looked awful in losing to the Panthers last week.
The rivalry aspect of this game will stop it from being a letdown game for the Saints, who should win with relative ease.
Falcons vs. Saints Prediction: Saints 27, Falcons 23
Jameis Winston tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and he will miss the remainder of the season for the Saints (5-2). If Taysom Hill is still in the concussion protocol, the journeyman Trevor Siemian will start at quarterback against the Falcons (3-4). While Coach Sean Payton and the offense adapt to yet another quarterback change, the Saints will lean on their defense, which has allowed the league’s second-lowest points total (128).
They will be able to focus on containing Atlanta’s rookie tight end, Kyle Pitts, since the Falcons will be without receiver Calvin Ridley, who stepped away from the team to attend to his mental health. Pick: Saints -6
The Saints are short some skill level at QB after the Jameis Winston injury, but I’m not sure it matters that much. The Falcons are creeping on a playoff spot but their wins are against the Giants, Jets, Dolphins and WFT. They barely beat the Jets, lost to the Panthers and got completely smoked by the only good team they played (Tampa). The Saints don’t have the weapons on both sides like the Bucs do, but their defense is playing some good football, helping Trevor Siemian take down Tom Brady on Halloween. The rivalry aspect of this game makes me a little concerned with the bigger point spread but the Saints defensive line should spend the entire afternoon in Matt Ryan’s kitchen and Atlanta is bottom 10 in terms of rush defense. Alvin Kamara is about to go nuclear and Mark Ingram might not struggle either. Sean Payton REALLY doesn’t like the Falcons. That’s important here.
The Pick: Saints 31, Falcons 14
Bets: Saints -6, Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram over rush yards
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