The 1-1 Atlanta Falcons travel to New Orleans to take on the 0-2 Saints on Monday night. New Orleans lost at home last week 16-13 to the New York Giants, while the Falcons beat the Raiders 35-28. Both of the Saints losses this season were by a combined 4 points and were decided in the final minute. These two teams are NFC rivals and emotions will be high as it is the 10th anniversary of the re-opening of the Superdome after 9/11.
The Saints offense last week was heavily focused on the passing game as Drew Brees made 44 throws while the team ran the ball 13 times. Brees finished 29 of 44 for 263 yards and 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. His favorite target was Brandon Cooks who caught 7 passes for 68 yards. Willie Snead was the lone Saint to find the end zone as he had 5 catches for 54 yards. Special teams let them down as they had a field goal attempt blocked and returned for a touchdown. The team gained only 41 rushing yards on 13 carries. Defensively, the allowed Eli Manning to throw for 368 yards but they forced and were able to recover 3 fumbles. They absolutely stopped the Giants running game allowing only 64 yards on 32 carries. They also had 2 sacks and 6 tackles for losses.
Matt Ryan led the Falcons offense to 535 yards and 4 touchdowns. He finished 26 of 34 for 396 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. After 2 weeks, Ryan leads the NFL in passer rating at 121.4 and in yards per pass attempt with 10. His favorite target was Julio Jones who had 5 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. Jacob Tamme added 5 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. Devonta Freeman led the running game 93 yards on 17 carries. Tevin Coleman chipped in with 46 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. The 139 yards rushing was the first time in the past 7 games the Falcons had at least 100 rushing yards. Defensively, they allowed the Raiders to gain over 450 yards and score 4 touchdowns. They sacked Derek Carr twice, did not force a turnover and had 0 tackles for losses. A bright spot for the defense was Kemal Ishmael who had 13 tackles in a fill in role as he was replacing safety Keanu Neal.
Both teams are 1-1 against the spread this season and despite being winless, the Saints are favored by a field goal in this game. These teams met twice last year with New Orleans taking both of the games. The Falcons are 25th in run defense allowing their first two opponents to average 4.6 yards per carry. This is good news for the Saints who have only averaged 64 rushing yards per game. The Saints didn’t allow an offensive touchdown last week and the Falcons are averaging over 30 points per game.
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