The 9-3 New Orleans Saints will travel to Atlanta to take on the 7-5 Falcons in this week’s Thursday night matchup. These teams are coming off very different weeks, which had a big impact on the NFC South. The Falcons offense was completely shut down in their 14-9 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. This was the first time in 2 years Atlanta didn’t score a touchdown and ended Matt Ryan’s streak of 30 consecutive games with a passing touchdown. Atlanta now sits in third place behind both New Orleans and Carolina. The Saints beat the Panthers last week 31-21 at home to earn sole possession of first place.

Last week’s performance by the Falcons was one of their poorest offensive showings in Matt Ryan’s career. He finished with a quarterback rating of 42.8 as he completed 16 of 29 passes for 173 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His favorite target was Mohammed Sanu who had 3 catches for 43 yards. They had some success running the ball gaining 102 yards on 22 carries, which is an average of 4.6 yards per carry. The 9 points scored and 275 yards gained are both much lower than their season averages of 22 points and 375 yards per game. Defensively, they played well despite not forcing a turnover and sacking Case Keenum just twice. They limited the Vikings to just 332 yards of offense and 14 points, which are both below their season averages. Against the rush, they allowed Minnesota to gain 105 yards on 31 carries, which is an average of 3.4 yards per run.

Drew Brees continued his comeback season by finishing last week’s game with a passer rating of 107. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 269 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. His favorite target was Michael Thomas who had 70 yards and a touchdown on 5 receptions. Rookie Alvin Kamara had a monster day both running and catching the ball. As a receiver he caught 5 passes for 66 yards but rushed for another 60 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 carries. For the season the Saints offense has averaged 29 points and 417 yards per game. Defensively, they recovered a Carolina fumble, sacked Cam Newton twice and gave up just 295 yards of offense. They gave up 5 yards per carry as the Panthers gained 112 yards on 22 carries. On the year, the Saints defense has allowed their opponents to score 20 points and gain 349 yards per game.

Atlanta will have home field advantage for this game and is favored by 1.5 points. They have gone 5-7 against the spread this season including 3-3 at home. New Orleans has gone 7-5 against the spread this season including 4-2 on the road. At 3rd place in the NFC South this is basically a must win game for Atlanta to keep their playoff hopes alive and you can be sure that the Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be rocking.

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