Atlanta (1-1) at New Orleans (0-2)
When: Monday, September 26th 2016
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: ESPN
Monday will mark the ten-year anniversary of the New Orleans Saints return to the Superdome after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. They’ll face the same opponent tonight in the Atlanta Falcons, but with far less emotions. The Saints, however, do need a win badly and the home crowd on a Monday night could help. New Orleans suffered a heart-breaking loss to Oakland in Week 1 in a 35-34 shootout, then the defense stepped up in Week 2 only to have their offense sputter in a 16-13 setback in New York. New Orleans was horrible on defense last season and little has changed as they are ranked 31st in the league allowing 451.5 yards a contest. The pass defense has been a big problem allowing 336 yards a game. The running game needs to get going in order to give the defense some time to rest on the sidelines. Mark Ingram leads the team with just 88 yards rushing and has only carried the ball 21 times. Quarterback Drew Brees has a potent receiving duo in Willie Snead and Brandon Cooks, who have combined for 27 catches and four touchdowns through two games. Brees is off to a good start with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Speaking of good starts, Matt Ryan seems to be putting his worst season behind him as he has led the Falcons to the top ranked offense in the NFL with a 451 yards per game average so far. Ryan had his fewest touchdown passes (21) since his rookie season in 2015, but has 730 yards passing with five scores and one interception while leading the league with a 121.4 quarterback rating this season. Wide receiver Julio Jones sat out his second straight practice on Friday due to a calf injury, but Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said he expects him to play. The Falcons are receiving solid production from the backfield tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, who have combined for 181 rushing yards and 11 receptions. The bad news for this Atlanta team is the same as the Saints – defense. Atlanta ranks 29th overall, allowing an average of 412.5 yards per game and 29.5 points per game.
A Saints win tonight means the entire NFC South is 1-2. Atlanta’s offense has looked better than New Orleans, but I think the Saints get it cranked up at home tonight. The Saints are 15-5 versus Atlanta since Payton and Brees joined the team, including a season sweep last year. I’ll side with the public on this one tonight.
Pick: Saints -2.5