No NFL wants a bad start, as so it’s obvious the New Orleans Saints have a lot on the line when they try to avoid an 0-3 start to the season with a victory over the Atlanta Falcons on a classic NFL Monday night.
New Orleans does have the odds on it’s side with a 2.5-point favouring according to bookkies. Most odds-makers are expecting the Saints to be victorious but that they will fail to cover the point spread, so many will be betting on under on the point total.
Monday night’s total is set at 53.5 points, which is the highest of any game in Week 3. Everyone expects the match-up to be a high-scoring one that will be played out between the NFC South rivals. Atlanta so far has given up eight touchdown drives of 75 yards or more over 23 possessions in the 2016 season alone.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been playing well and is on a roll with five touchdown passes for 686 yards and no interceptions. That’s pretty impressive. He’s used his offensive weapons well implementing 10 different receivers in his plays. And against Atlanta, Brees has thrown for 300-plus yards in each of the past four meetings.
Although last week, the Saints had a tough time offensively in their 16-13 loss to the New York Giants. But since, the team has dusted themselves off and are poised to gain momentum against a Falcons team that has allowed 29.5 points per game so far this season. New Orleans should be able to take advantage of that, if they can get together a more balanced offensive attack they should be able to win. But after calling just 13 rushing attempts last week Brees will have to be on his game.
The Saints loss to the Giants last Sunday should have them ready for a win. The Falcons, on the other hand, got their first win last week with a 35-28 victory over the Oakland Raiders on the road and will work hard not to stop there.
Outside of Falcon’s quarterback Matt Ryan’s one interception, Atlanta handled their ball protection well, but head coach Dan Quinn wants to improve the team’s turnover ratio and tighten up their defense.
“Our turnover margin after two games is zero,” Quinn told reporters, according to the team’s website. “And we are just trying like [crazy] to be in the plus. [The Saints] are plus-2 on the year. That part is really important to us.”
So to beat the Falcons, the Saints must hit the ground running against Falcons rushing attack. Through the last two weeks, the Falcons have been moving the ball through the air about as well anyone in the NFL, so if they want to win the Saints won’t be able to take other aspects of the Atlanta offense for granted.
Eeven though Atlanta is only averaging 3.7 yards per carry, both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have the ability to make and break big plays, and the Falcons use the running game to help set up the passing game, so they have balance.
“Both backs are explosive, and we know them both well from the draft. Coleman is kind of more of a slash, straight-line-speed guy,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We have got to be prepared to handle that wide zone scheme and how they run it and they have some misdirection. They do a great job, as good as anyone, with their boots and naked scheme. Just simulating that speed with the running game and the angles in which it hits is always one of the challenges.”
Coleman, is going into his second season, he only played in the first game against New Orleans just last season. But he was efective, since he made the most of his four carries by picking up 40 yards. Freeman played in both games, getting 181 yards on 37 carries, catching 10 passes for 74 yards.
The Saints are a bit little bit better against the run this season, allowing only 4.0 yards per carry. Last year, the same Saints allowed 4.9 yards per carry. So with the Saints desperately in need of a win, they should be effective in eliminating the threat of the Falcons ground game, if they want to avoid going 0-3.