1:02 pm
September 11

Saints @ Falcons

Who will WIN this matchup?

New Orleans Saints (0-0)

@ Atlanta Falcons (0-0)


Current odds:

New Orleans Saints: (-240)

Atlanta Falcons: (+196)


The spread for the game is New Orleans by 5.5 points.

New Orleans, which had the least productive passing game in the NFL last season after having one of the best for nearly all of Payton’s tenure, ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense under Allen last season. “We want to be the catalyst for winning,” defensive end Cameron Jordan said of the defense. “We don’t want to be something where we’re winning in spite of the defense.” Jordan finished with a team-high 12.5 sacks last season.

The Saints’ string of four consecutive NFC South titles ended last season, though they still had a winning record (9-8) despite enduring a series of significant absences due to injuries and COVID-19. They’re hopeful that the return of quarterback Jameis Winston, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 8 of last season, and wide receiver Michael Thomas, who missed all of last season and most of 2020 because of multiple ankle surgeries, will help them return to the playoffs. Thomas was limited in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday due to a hamstring injury but said he hopes to start Sunday. When he was last healthy in 2019, he set an NFL single-season record by catching 149 passes.

The Falcons have turned to former Tennessee Titans No. 2 overall draft pick Marcus Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner who was a backup for the Las Vegas Raiders the last two seasons, to succeed Ryan. Smith was offensive coordinator in Mariota’s final season with the Titans in 2019. “He’s in a different spot,” Smith said of Mariota. “We all continue to grow and learn — very excited to work with him again. I think the experiences, some of the hardships he went through the last couple of years has only made him better.”

Atlanta, which finished 7-10 and third in the NFC South last season, was 29th in the NFL in total offense (303.8 yards per game), 31st in rushing (85.4), 16th in passing (218.4) and 26th in scoring (18.4 points per game). The Falcons’ two most productive offensive players beside Ryan last season were running back Cordarrelle Patterson (1,166 scrimmage yards, 11 touchdowns) and rookie Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Pitts (68 catches, 1,026 yards, one touchdown).

StreakSmarter Pick
New Orleans Saints