New Orleans -10 @ Atlanta — O/U 53
When these two presumed playoff teams squared off in week one, the Saints were a 3-point choice — at the Superdome. Assuming home field advantage is worth 2.5 points, that line would be sniffing two TD territory 73 long days later. Fielding a battered defense and an offense missing its most threatening playmaker, the Falcons look for all the world like the NFL walkover right now. Alas, recent reports claim head coach Mike Smith will retain his position.
On the defensive side of the ball Atlanta ranks 26th in total defense and 30th against the run. While the Saints will never be mistaken for a run-dominant offense, Sean Payton has shown more commitment to grinding out yards and balancing his attack. Versatile RB Darren Sproles is listed as questionable with ankle and knee injuries, but his presence would be sorely missed through the air, not so much on the ground. However, the Falcons allowed rookie Mike Glennon to complete 20 of 23 passes last week, so Drew Brees will be licking his chops with or without Sproles.
Roddy White, who is clearly on the downside of his career, has been ineffective in two games since returning from a hamstring injury. In fact, he was ineffective even before the injury. He’s caught four of 13 targets, and his touchdown catch against Tampa came with 1:45 remaining down 41-21. The above sentiments can be stapled onto the back of ten-year vet Steven Jackson as well. New Orleans quietly stands at #4 in the league against the pass, and with a reputation for building frequent early leads, that’s usually what they see.
Prediction: 41-17 New Orleans