Atlanta Falcons (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Monday, September 26, 2016 at 8:30 PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ATL +3/NO -3
Over/Under Total: 53.5
Two teams that were hoping to challenge Carolina for supremacy in the NFC South division will take their first crack at each other to see who steps forward, when the Atlanta Falcons go on the road to take on the New Orleans Saints inside the Superdome on Monday Night Football.
Atlanta finally broke into the win column last week when they outlasted the Oakland Raiders on the road, 35-28. Matt Ryan almost threw for 400 yards to go along with his three touchdown passes as the Falcons were able to hold on to their lead in the final minutes of the game.
New Orleans hasnít been so lucky, in fact you could say theyíve been snake bit thus far in 2016. Ironically, the Saints were unable to hold on to their lead over the Raiders in the opener losing in the final seconds when Oakland coach Jack Del Rio went for the two-point conversion in a, 35-34, win. Last Sunday the Saints stumbled through another game to forget, losing to the New York Giants, 16-13, on a last-second field goal by Josh Brown. The Saints need to find a way to finish in the final minute after back-to-back 59 minute efforts that has them at 0-2 in 2016.
Oddsmakers opened the Monday Night Football contest with the Saints as the standard 3-point favorites at home. So far by midweek the betting line hasnít moved in either direction, as money is coming in on both sides of the point spread for this one.
The same could be said for the over/under total as well. It opened at 53.5 late on Sunday and has yet to move much, with the number still sitting at 53.5 at a majority of sportsbooks. However, a lot of money seems to be pouring in on the over, which has caused a few books to move the total up to 54.
Itís a simple way of looking at this game, but itís also accurate Ö this game will hinge on which team decides to play a little defense on Monday night.
For Atlanta, much of the offseason concern was focused on a defense that they tried to improve in order to get back into playoff contention. After two games it looks like head coach Dan Quinn and the defensive staff should still be concerned, as the Falcons are currently 28th in the NFL in yards allowed (412.5 ypg) , 27th in points allowed (29.5 ppg) and 26th versus the run (122.5 ypg). While Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense is ranked in the top-5 in multiple categories, itís the Falcons defense thatís not holding their end of the rope.
The Saints defense is also a work in progress, and progress is being measured in baby steps right now. New Orleans isnít last in the NFL on defense anymore, their 31st (451.5 ypg), which includes a 30th-rank versus the pass (336 ypg) as the main reason for their 0-2 start. With Drew Brees and the Saints offense struggling to get the run game going (64.5 ypg Ė 29th), the defense has been unable to hold up down the stretch in the fourth quarter, but even so are just a two-point conversion and a game-winning field goal away from being 2-0 at atop the NFC South standings.
New Orleans won both matchups versus the Falcons last season, but the season before Atlanta swept the two-game series, so itís indicative to the way these two rivals play against each other. But the Saints are 7-3 SU in the last 10 in the series, and 6-4 ATS in the last 10 too, so they are riding a wave of momentum over the Falcons in recent times.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Before the season started I thought the Falcons were a better team than the Saints, and after two weeks I still believe that my gut feeling was correct. But Iíve learned over the years that itís hard to bet against the Saints at home, despite their crap for a defense. So that washes out the sides for me. So Iím going to go against the public and the line movement in this game at take the under of 53.5 wager. The under is a surprising 5-1-1 in the series, itís 5-1-1 in the Flacons last seven road games, and itís 5-2-1 in the Saints last 8 games versus an NFC South opponent. Iím going to find a book thatís already moved the total up to 54, and take the under. *Editor's Note: The principles of Predictem.com are recommending a play on the Falcons at +2.5, citing multiple injuries to key positions. This is a bad matchup for the Saints.
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