NFL Week 16 features an excellent Monday Night Football affair between two solid NFC South rivals, as the Atlanta Falcons travel to Louisiana to do battle with the New Orleans Saints in the always raucous Superdome. Despite the playoff and home-field implications on the line in this one, more interestingly is that New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees could break Dan Marino’s single-season passing yards record set back in 1984. Brees currently trails the mark by just 305 yards and you can bet Brees certainly would like to break the record in front of his home fans in such a massive contest.
Though the Saints would love to break this record, they still must be sure to pick up a key victory as they are an entirely different squad inside the cozy confines of the Superdome, opposed to when on the road. Let’s not forget, this is a team that lost to St. Louis on the road this season. New Orleans knows home-field is vital to the NFC Championship, and will be focused on obtaining that privilege against the always tough Falcons.
Meanwhile for Atlanta, they had an excellent Week 16 before even suiting up for Monday Night’s clash. With losses to conference rival teams such as the Eagles, Cardinals, and Bears, Atlanta has now locked up a play-off spot and will look to finish the season strong against an always tough divisional rival. For the remainder of their season, they’ll be focused on seeding, and you can bet they’d rather be seeded against the struggling winner of the NFC East opposed to the powerful 49ers.
For New Orleans, key target Lance Moore is listed as questionable and will likely miss this contest. Running back Mark Ingram is also questionable, and on defense, linebacker Jonathan Vilma was limited in practice all week and his status will not become clearer until closer to game time. On the other side of the ball for the Falcons, Michael Turner has been nursing a sore groin but should be fine for kick-off. That said, with Atlanta already having locked up a playoff position, do not be surprised if key starters get limited plays and action on Monday evening. Even though they possess a remote chance at securing the NFC South, the Saints losing two straight at home seems highly unlikely, and the Falcons will be in tough in the Superdome.
Falcons vs. Saints Spread, Line, and Betting Odds:
Atlanta Falcons +6.5 (-110)
@ New Orleans Saints -6.5 (-110)
Over 52 (-110)
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Falcons vs. Saints Pick:
Heading into Week 16 action this certainly looked like one of the premier match-ups on this week’s slate, although a couple of key results have altered this contest’s implications. Now that the Falcons have locked up a playoff spot it remains to be seen how they will enter this contest, especially with a minimal shot at obtaining the NFC South division. They must win this win out and hope the Saints lose both games. Though this is possible, with the way in which New Orleans has been playing it remains highly unlikely. They have a running back in Turner who is battling a tough injury, so I would expect his carries to be limited. Beyond that it’s tough to predict, however I foresee this holiday-themed contest to be all about giving, specifically the Saints giving their loyal fan-base one heck of a show.
The Saints have a lot riding on this game, and in the spotlight under the Monday Night Lights, Drew Brees and company rarely disappoint. With New Orleans having the attention of all football fans on Monday Night Football, look for the Saints to really try and ensure that Brees obtains the record with all eyes on them. Moreover, unlike Atlanta, the Saints have to win to keep pace with San Francisco in their quest for a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the second round. The Saints know all too well the perils of not wrapping up home-field as was seen last season in a disappointing loss in Seattle.
Though these two teams are closer in talent than their records would suggest, Monday evening’s motivation discrepancy will tilt the balance heavily in favour of the hometown Saints. Look for New Orleans to put on quite the performance in front of their rabid fans, and for Brees to employ his lethal air attack en route to a record-breaking performance. Expect the Saints by a couple of scores Monday evening.