The New Orleans Saints will commemorate one of the more noteworthy games in franchise history when they host the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night in a matchup of longtime NFC South rivals. It will mark the 10-year anniversary of the re-opening of the Superdome after the venue was forced to close for one season in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
While emotions certainly will not be as high as in New Orleans’ win over Atlanta a decade ago, the Saints can use any edge to avoid an 0-3 start after dropping their first two games by a combined four points. “This is an important division game,” said New Orleans coach Sean Payton, readily acknowledging the significance is far less than the game from 2006. “One team is 0-2 and trying to get a win, and another team that’s 1-1.” The Falcons rebounded from a 31-24 home loss to Tampa Bay in Week 1 with a 35-28 road win last week at Oakland, which squeezed out a 35-34 victory at New Orleans in the season opener.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: The Saints opened as 3-point home favorites for this divisional clash. The spread held fairly solid all week until a drop to -2.5 on Saturday afternoon. The total opened at a lofty 53.5 and has yet to move off the origianl number. Click here to view complete line history.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Atlanta (+2) – New Orleans (+4) + home field (-3) = New Orleans -1
KEY INJURIES (for full injury report visit matchup page):
Falcons – WR M. Sanu (Probable Monday, ankle), WR J. Jones (Probable Monday, calf), WR J. Hardy (Questionable Monday, shoulder), LB B. Reed (Questionable Monday, shoulder), LB B. Campbell (Questionable Monday, ankle), LB P. Worrilow (Out Monday, groin), CB J. Collins (Eligible Week 5, suspension).
Saints – WR W. Snead IV (Questionable Monday, toe), DE C. Jordan (Questionable Monday, knee), LB D. Ellerbe (Questionable Monday, quadricep), S K. Vaccaro (Questionable Monday, ankle), T T. Armstead (Out Monday, knee), TE J. Hill (Early October, ankle).
WEATHER REPORT: There is a 25 percent chance of thunderstorms in the New Orleans area for Monday night, but that shouldn’t be much of an issue underneath the roof of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, 2-0 O/U): Matt Ryan had his fewest touchdown passes (21) since his rookie season in 2015, but he off to a fast start with 730 yards passing with five scores and one interception while leading the league with a 121.4 quarterback rating. There is cause for concern in the passing game with star wide receiver Julio Jones sitting out his second straight practice Friday due to a calf injury, but Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said he expects him to play. The Falcons are receiving solid production from the backfield tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, who have combined for 181 rushing yards and 11 receptions. Atlanta’s defense ranks 29th overall, allowing an average of 412.5 yards per game.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS, 1-1 O/U): New Orleans was horrendous on defense last season and little has changed — it ranked 31st in the league with a staggering 451.5 yards surrendered and has been torched through the air for an average of 336.0 yards. Keeping the defense off the field would be easier if the Saints could crank up their running game, with lead back Mark Ingram producing 88 rushing yards on only 21 attempts, including nine carries in last week’s 19-16 loss at the New York Giants. “From a rushing standpoint, I think we had some early positive runs, and all of a sudden we end up with the game over and only 13 rushing attempts (overall),” Payton said of the Week 2 loss. “I don’t like the balance there.” Quarterback Drew Brees has a potent receiving duo in Willie Snead and Brandon Cooks, who have combined for 27 catches and four touchdowns.
* Falcons are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 vs. NFC South.
* Saints are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC South.
* Under is 9-1-1 in Falcons last 11 vs. NFC South.
* Over is 6-0-1 in Saints last 7 home games.
* Underdog is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is supporting the home favorite Saints at a rate of 65 percent and the Over is picking up the majority of the totals wagers on Covers with 75 percent. Check out full consensus data here.
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