The NFC South has been a real crapshoot the past few seasons, and the 2015 edition looks no different. Every year in August, I sit down and make some predictions and always spend the longest on this division – as it’s truly wild to try and slot in who will be first, and who will be last. Any team can surprise you since parity is at its highest in the wild NFC South, and truth be told, every team has some pretty glaring flaws. The Falcons and Saints fit this mould, and though they’ve been great teams in recent years, it remains to be seen who’s for real and who is not. That is especially true with the Atlanta Falcons as new head coach Dan Quinn has them out to a perfect 5-0 record to begin the season. Even with some key injuries, they’ve feasted on inferior opposition, but you can bet the rival Saints and their rabid home fans won’t lie down for Atlanta on Thursday night. It should make for an exhilarating affair Thursday evening at the Superdome, so read on below for a more detailed game breakdown and the official selection to kick off Week 6 of the NFL season!
Falcons vs. Saints Betting Odds:
Atlanta Falcons -3 (-120)
@ New Orleans Saints +3 (+100)
Over 51 (-110)
Under 51 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Falcons vs. Saints Pick:
Despite still being a perfect 5-0, the Atlanta Falcons offense definitely wasn’t at their best in Week 5. They looked stagnant when moving the football, especially through the air, and a lot of that can be attributed to a less than 100% Julio Jones and an injury to key wideout Leonard Hankerson. As of writing this, it seems like Jones is going to try and gut it out but potentially be on a snap count, while Hankerson is officially listed as doubtful with a rib injury.
Still, even with Hankerson being out, the fact that Jones is slated to play is huge news for Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense. Julio is a huge threat, especially against a porous Saints defensive unit. They’ve struggled to string together a complete four quarters, and have conceded an average of 28.6 points against through their first five games. That’s good for 29th in the NFL. Expect Ryan to air it out regularly to Jones, and even at half-speed the best receiver in the game should be in a for a big game against this Saints’ defense. If the aerial attack is not working, the Falcons have had quite the revelation with young running back Devonta Freeman. He’s been a beast in recent weeks and has given Atlanta some great options to move the chains. He’s got an NFL-best 8 touchdowns so far and will likely build on that against the swiss-cheese defense of New Orleans.
On the other side of the football, look for Drew Brees to encounter some more struggles than he usually does when taking on Atlanta. That’s because the Falcons’ stop unit has made new strides with the new coaching regime, recently limiting the Redskins to just 270 total yards in Week 5. They rank 1st in the entire league in run defense and are dangerous at forcing takeaways. For many years, these matchups have been based on explosive offenses, but look for a methodical approach from the Falcons offense to separate from New Orleans, and rely on their defense to keep Brees in check.
Even with some big injury concerns at the Falcons’ skill positions, it’s hard to even consider backing a spineless Saints squad right now. Their offense isn’t what it used to be, the coaching staff seems like it’s not on the same page, and Rob Ryan’s defense is once again an embarrassment. While I don’t think this will be a blowout, the Falcons should pull away late on the backs of Ryan and Jones, to keep their perfect record intact.
PICK = Falcons -3 (-120)