If you’re still unsure of who to back in this primetime matchup, we’ve enlisted the help of those who know these teams best. Expert NFL bloggers Dave Chote of Atlanta blog, The Falcholic and Andrew Juge of New Orleans blog Saints Nation strap on the pads and debate which team will not only win, but cover the spread Monday night.
WHY THE FALCONS WILL COVER
Dave Choate is one of the editors-in-chief of The Falcoholic, SB Nation’s Atlanta Falcons team blog. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @TheFalcoholic.
A close game good for Falcons
These games are always pretty close. The Falcons and Saints play some weird games, especially with Sean Payton at the helm for New Orleans, but it’s fairly rare that they’re blowouts. The closer the game throughout, the more likely the Falcons cover (and hopefully win).
Shootout will help Falcons rise up
Neither team can stop the other. Given that neither of these defenses are particularly inspiring, and both offenses have the chance to put up 40+ points, you have to figure the Falcons can hang in and keep things close, even if they fall behind a little early.
Falcons are better
Yes, this is a Saints team commandeered by Drew Brees and Sean Payton, meaning anything can happen. The Falcons’ defense is still a better unit from top to bottom, even if the pass rush is lacking, and the offense is more well-rounded. Atlanta’s got this.
WHY THE SAINTS WILL COVER
Andrew Juge writes for Saints Nation. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @SaintsNationBlg.
Sean Payton and Drew Brees own the Falcons
The Saints are 14-4 against the Falcons since 2006 when Sean Payton is on the sidelines as the Saints head coach (note: the Saints and Falcons split the series the season Sean Payton was suspended in 2012). They are 15-5 against the Falcons with Drew Brees at quarterback. These include a series sweep by the Saints last year, despite the Saints having a less successful roster. The Saints have had a mix of great teams and mediocre teams since Payton/Brees started in 2006, but the dominance over Atlanta has been consistent throughout. Further, the Saints are 8-2 in the Sean Payton era at home against the Falcons – winning at an 80% clip. The Saints and Falcons have faced off six times on Monday Night Football in their history, with the Saints winning five of those. The continued recent history success against Atlanta is too significant to ignore.
It’s the 10 year anniversary of the team’s return after Hurricane Katrina
This game will mark the 10 year anniversary, almost to the day (one day later), of the Saints return to the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. The opponent will be the same to commemorate this event – the bitter rival Atlanta Falcons. This is also remembered as “the Steve Gleason game”, where Gleason blocked a punt to help score the game’s first touchdown. Gleason has ALS as has been well documented, and he’s now a universally adored fixture throughout the community. Gleason will be in attendance and a statue of “the play” sits outside the Superdome as a memorial of that day. There will be pregame festivities outside the stadium and fans will be as loud and motivated as ever to help their team win. Football is sometimes best played on emotion and the Saints will have no shortage of it.
Falcons defense continues to struggle mightily
The Falcons Achilles heel the last several years has been woeful play on the defensive side of the ball. Despite hiring a defensive minded coach in Dan Quinn, this continues to be a major problem area. So far through two weeks, the Falcons are 29th in yards yielded, 27th in points given up, and 27th in run defense. Atlanta’s biggest issue last season was an anemic pass rush and they are currently dead last in the NFL with just 1 sack through two games. Not exactly encouraging when you’re about to go on the road against one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. And while New Orleans has very similar issues, last week they showed signs of improvement defensively as they held the Giants to 16 points on the road with the only touchdown being a field goal block return.
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