Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints
Date and Time: Monday, September 26, 2016, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Week 3 NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Saints -3, O/U 53
Falcons vs. Saints TV Coverage: ESPN
Any guess as to who is the highest rated passer in the NFL? If you guessed Matt Ryan, you would be correct. Yes, the same Matt Ryan who struggled to master the offense incorporated by coordinator Kyle Shanahan. And the same Matt Ryan who looked average at best last season while throwing 16 interceptions. He will head to New Orleans as the hottest quarterback in the league after shredding the Raiders for 396 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 26 of 34 attempts in Oakland and led the Falcons to scores on six of their last seven possessions.
We’ve now seen two completely different games from the Saints at the start of the year and both ended with New Orleans taking a loss at the end. A 35-34 loss to Oakland in the opener when the Raiders scored a late touchdown and two-point conversion and then Sunday, when the defense kept New York out of the end zone only to see a blocked field goal turn into a touchdown and a field goal with no time remaining deciding the outcome.
The Saints and Falcons will meet nearly 10 years to the day that the Superdome reopened following Hurricane Katrina. Payton was in his first season back then and the Saints posted an emotional victory. The wins against Atlanta haven’t stopped since that night. New Orleans is 14-4 SU and 10-8 ATS while posting a 5-0 SU mark in Monday Night Football games with Atlanta.
Matchup To Watch
As usually is the case with struggling teams, when one area performs well in a game another doesn’t. And the vicious cycle continues. Such was the case for the Saints in their game against the Giants. The oft-maligned defense, a group that was historically bad last season and looked the part again in the opener, stifled the Giants and held them without an offensive touchdown. That should be enough for Drew Brees and the offense to pull off a victory, right? It was the offense’s turn for a dud and the Saints dropped a tough one 16-13.
But not to be outdone, the Saints’ special teams also contributed to their loss. So often special teams play goes unnoticed until something drastic happens. Well, something drastic happened to the Saints. Late in the first half of a scoreless game, the Saints lined up for a field goal to take the lead. But the kick was blocked and the ball scooped up and returned for a score by Janoris Jenkins. The Saints would never lead in the game. Kicker Will Lutz made a field goal that was partially blocked in Week 1 and said he needs to get more air under his kicks. Payton blamed the protection. Whatever the problem, the Saints better work on getting it fixed because opponents will focus on blocking kicks now that it’s happened two weeks in a row.
Falcons vs. Saints Free Picks
New Orleans is just a few plays away from being undefeated and playing at home has them at -3 in this NFC South showdown. While the Saints have lost their first two games for the third straight year, it’s not like they’ve been beaten. They couldn’t stop the Raiders from converting in the last minute of the opener and allowed a blocked field goal to turn into a score that decided the outcome against the Giants.
Brees and the offense were silenced in New York, but the Bruce Allen-led defense showed signs of putting up a fight. It was an encouraging sign for a group that has been criticized relentlessly for its inability to stop anyone. However, the common thread this season has been the Saints failure to close out games. Payton is too good of a coach, the Saints have plenty of talent, and the emotion of the evening will carry over as the Saints finally put a complete game together to beat the odds at BookMaker.eu.
Falcons vs. Saints Week 3 ATS Pick: Saints -3 at BookMaker.eu
Falcons vs. Saints Score Prediction: Saints 31, Falcons 26