Pick: Saints -3

The Saints and Falcons have had one of the better rivalries in the NFL for a long time. The Saints have won six of the last 7 meetings. Both team’s strengths are in the passing game and neither has been known for being a particularly strong defensive team. Both teams are coming off seasons in which they were debilitated by injuries and are looking to bounce back strong.

Since coming over from the Chargers many years ago, Drew Brees has become one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He has been the one constant in an otherwise up and down organization. Marques Colston returns as his trusted veteran receiver and it will be up to him to help shape and mold an otherwise inexperienced unit of wide receivers. Rookie Brandin Cooks has been impressive in training camp and is likely to end up as either a starter or the third option at wideout. The team also has the best Tight End in the NFL in Jimmy Graham. He has improved every year and has reached the point where he is nearly impossible to defend. He is too fast for linebackers to cover and he is too big for all cornerbacks. Regardless of who is trying to defend him, he is the likely winner of any “jump ball” that is thrown in his direction. The team will certainly miss Darren Sproles and all of the versatility he brings to an offense. He was a reliable target for Drew Brees out of the backfield and also had the ability to break a big run at any time. His departure may open up an opportunity for former first round pick Mark Ingram who will need a strong season in order to get another NFL contract.

The Falcons have the best wide receiver tandem on the league and unlike last season, both appear healthy and ready to go. Julio Jones missed the majority of last season due to injury and is a threat all over the field. He can go over the middle just as well as he could run a seam route. Roddy White is in his 10th year in the league and has shown no signs of slowing down. He can change the game with his ability to make plays in traffic. The team added veteran speedster Devin Hester to go along with Harry Douglass to form a deep receiving core. They will miss the presence of Hall of fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, especially in the red zone. The defense is not filled with a variety of household names but it is filled with multiple young veterans. They will miss linebacker Will Weatherspoon, especially on first and second down.

This could be a very exciting and high scoring game. The Falcons have a bad taste in their mouths from last season and will be looking to get off on the right foot. The Saints will be traveling into the Georgia Dome as road favorites looking to establish themselves.

Pick: Falcons +3

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