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New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons – NFL Regular Season – Betting Preview and Prediction – September 7, 2014

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons – NFL Regular Season – Betting Preview and Prediction – September 7, 2014

Right around the same time last season, the Saints kicked off their season by beating the then-defending NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans. That win kickstarted the Saints’ march toward the playoffs, while the Falcons’ loss began their nosedive to the bottom of the division.

The Falcons will look to return the favor this year when they go in search of a home win in Week 1 against the Saints. Check out our preview of Thursday night’s official NFL kickoff between the Packers vs. Seahawks, and read on for this Sunday night NFC South showdown.

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New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons Betting Preview and Prediction

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

When: Sunday, September 7, 1:00 PM ET

Line: New Orleans Saints (-2.5) at Atlanta Falcons (+2.5); total 51.5– see all NFL lines

Betting on the New Orleans Saints

Everything is falling into place for the New Orleans Saints ahead of their Week 1 assignment in Atlanta. First off, Drew Brees showed no signs of the oblique injury that had hampered him in past weeks during his only preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, where he went 9-for-15 for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

[sc:NFL240banner ]Brees tore the Falcons secondary apart last season, completing 72% of his passes for 635 yards and four touchdowns in the two games. Apart from wide receiver Kenny Stills, who’s battling a quad injury, Brees should have his full complement of receivers in a passing offense which ranked second only to the Denver Broncos last season. Brees’ favorite target, Jimmy Graham, has two 100-yard receiving games and four touchdowns in his last four games against the Falcons.

And on the defensive side, the Saints’ secondary, which allowed just 194 passing yards/game, the second fewest in the NFL last season, has been sharp in the preseason. Safety Jairus Byrd, who’s had 12 interceptions since 2011, will help out the corners in coverage against the Falcons’ deadly receivers, and is a threat to cause some turnovers.

The Saints weren’t particularly great away from the Superdome last season. They went just 3-5 SU and 1-7 ATS. However, Atlanta is one place they’ve liked visiting. They’re 4-1 SU (2-3 ATS) in their last five games at the Georgia Dome.

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Betting on the Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons were bad last season, as their 4-12 SU (7-9 ATS) record clearly illustrates, but they weren’t bad because of Matt Ryan. The Falcons QB still finished fourth in the league in both completion percentage and passing yards despite his top two receiving targets, Julio Jones and Roddy White, either missing most of the season or playing at less than 100%.

Ryan even torched the aforementioned Saints secondary for close to 600 yards over their two meetings last season. Despite losing Tony Gonzalez to retirement, Ryan will be glad to finally have his main weapons in Jones and White back healthy. Jones showed off his fully healed foot with a scintillating 52-yard score against the Titans during preseason.

The Falcons were a top 10 offense in 2012, and with their top receivers healthy, coupled with an improved O-line aided by first-round pick Jake Matthews, they should be closer to that unit against the Saints than the one that finished just 20th last season.

And as for the defense? Statistically, it was bad, ranking in the bottom fifth in points allowed and total yards allowed last season. However, it was able to limit the Saints’ offense to 23 and 17 points in its two meetings last season.

The 17 points they gave up at home last year is actually the third time the Falcons have held the Saints to 17 points or below in the last five meetings at the Georgia Dome. The total (which was set at 50 or higher) has gone under in all five games.

Writer’s Prediction

The high-scoring shootouts one would expect when two explosive passing offenses like the Falcons and Saints go head-to-head hasn’t transpired when they play in the Georgia Dome. And even last year’s opener in New Orleans didn’t have the expected fireworks. Heed the trend and take the total to go under 51.5 points.

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Written by Brad

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