The New Orleans Saints (1-1) travel to Atlanta this weekend to take on the Falcons in an NFC South showdown.  Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM EST on Sunday, September 24th at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The game will be televised on FOX.

Oddsmakers opened this game up with the Falcons as a narrow 3.5-point home favorite. The line has shifted only slightly, as Atlanta is currently favored by a field goal. The total for this matchup is 53 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 3 NFL odds and for more links to our individual game previews.

Falcons vs Saints Vegas Odds & Game Preview

The Saints barely escaped with a home victory over Cleveland last weekend, needing to dodge a last second game-tying field to win 20-17. QB Drew Brees and the rest of the high-powered New Orleans offense couldn’t really get anything going all game long, gaining less than 300 total yards. The rushing game was almost non-existent, as the Browns held them to just 62 yards on the ground. However, Brees is still having a stellar season, already passing for 682 yards and five touchdowns in just two games. He has had a ton of help from Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, who have combined for 434 receiving yards and four touchdowns through the air.

As per usual, the Saints have looked far less impressive on the other side of the ball. All the hype before the season about a talented new defense hasn’t translated to any meaningful culture change as of yet, as New Orleans is giving up an average of 428 total yards per game  (27th). Their secondary has looked especially average, as they are currently 29th in the league in terms of passing yards allowed. The Saints are also 30th overall in average points allowed, as they are currently giving up an average of 33.0 per game.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons got back to .500 on the season last weekend with a tough 31-24 divisional win over Carolina in Week 2. RB Devonta Freeman was forced to miss the game due to a knee injury, but Tevin Coleman filled in admirably as he rushed for over 100 yards against the Panthers. Ryan and Julio Jones are still struggling to get back to their old ways, as Jones has yet to find the end zone yet this season. Matty Ice did a great job converting in the red zone against Carolina, rushing for two separate TD’s from inside the 15 yard line.

Atlanta has been slightly above average defensively, allowing opponents to score 21.0 points per game (13th) on 335.5 total yards per game (11th). However, they have really struggled against the run, as they have conceded an average of 117.0 yards per game on the ground (22nd).

Free NFL Betting Prediction: Atlanta -3

I’m really surprised that Atlanta is only favored by a field goal in this spot, especially playing at home. New Orleans has been brutal defensively and can’t get anything going on the ground despite having the super-talented Alvin Kamara. Yes, Kamara has found a lot of success catching the ball – but the Saints are only averaging 2.9 yards per rushing attempt, which is simply unacceptable. As a team, New Orleans only has 105 rushing yards total through two games combined. It might be difficult for Brees and Co. to keep pace on Sunday, as the Falcons have been really good against the pass – they are only allowing an average of 219 per game, which is 9th overall. 

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Atlanta is also an impressive 4-1 ATS in their past five home games and 7-3 ATS over their past ten games in September. New Orleans, on the other hand, is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall and 1-4 ATS over their past five games against NFC South opponents. Finally, they are also 1-4 ATS in their last five September games.

I can’t get the image of Ryan Fitzpatrick torching the Saints for 418 yards through the air and four touchdowns back in Week 1. I have a hard time seeing a way that Matt Ryan doesn’t throw for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns, while Julio Jones should also finally be able to break out. Tevin Coleman showed that he can shoulder a bigger load in the absence of Devonta Freeman as well. I think the Saints will still put some points up on the board, as Kamara and Thomas are way too talented not to break a couple plays for some big gains. I think this one should be a high-scoring, entertaining game that the Falcons should manage to win by at least a touchdown. I’ll happily lay the points and take Atlanta in this spot.