New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Time: NOON (EST), FOX
Spread: NO -3
Odds c/o 5dimes
The New Orleans Saints got off to its 2020 season in rough fashion, dropping two of its first three. Since? The Saints have reeled off eight straight wins, and it finds itself 3-point favorites on the road as it takes on the Atlanta Falcons Sunday on FOX. The betting total is set at 46 points according to NFL oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The New Orleans Saints are a tough beat this year, averaging nearly 30 points per game, a fifth-highest scoring offense, bolstered by a defense that surrenders just 20.5 per game. The offense is built upon a No. 7 rated rush attack, responsible for 134.7 yards per game. The passing lingers at No. 20 with 231.3 yards per game, but the balance is definitely there in this potent Saints’ offense.
Of course, one can barely mention the Saints offense without invoking its most powerful weapon, running back Alvin Kamara. Kamara has functioned as a passing threat since his rookie season, and he is only getting better at both the rush and receiving aspects of his game. Kamara leads the team in rushing with 585 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns. Amazingly, perhaps, he also leads the team in receiving yards, and by a sizable amount.
Kamara has caught 68 of 83 targeted looks for 646 yards and four TD receptions. The No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers have less catches COMBINED than Kamara has himself. Emmanuel Sanders has 417 receiving yards and Tre’Quan Smith has 321, while both have caught three touchdowns. Tight end Jared Cook rounds out this effort with his 22 catches for 285 yards, and Michael Thomas adds a great third-option for depth. The Saints have built a diverse offense on the back of Kamara, a player whose talents should eventually garner major recognition; that is, beyond his already stacked resume complete with an Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Drew Brees, aged as he is, is still one of the most accurate passers in the NFL. He averages just 7.4 yards per reception, but a lot of that is structural—Kamara runs a lot of short routes. Brees has racked up 2,196 yards at an impressive 73.5 percent clip, and he has 18 touchdowns with just three picks. He has also been sacked just barely over one per game.
The passer rating of 110.0 speaks for itself, and though the Saints are not quite the pass-heavy team it was prior to drafting Kamara, Brees remains a clutch threat.
The Saints’ impressive turnaround after Week 3 shows this team is very much a contender, and a road victory here would push the win streak to nine.
The Atlanta Falcons are just 4-7, with a half-game lead over the cellar-dwelling Carolina Panthers. The Falcons have begun to turn things around though, as winners of three of its last four games. The 0-5 start is a bit to overcome, but the Falcons remain very much alive at this juncture of the season. A loss Sunday might put a hole in that though.
Atlanta has a No. 5 ranked pass attack, generating 271.4 yards per game, while its rush attack lingers in the bottom-third at just 103.5 per game. The Falcons do possess a +1.3 point differential, a product of having a stingy defense and also a statistic inflated somewhat by a couple of lopsided wins over the Las Vegas Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. The overall picture is not that of a “winning team” necessarily though.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has been superb. He’s racked up over 3,100 yards at a 64.9 percent clip, but it is somewhat troubling that he has eight interceptions already with 17 touchdowns to counteract that somewhat. He has also been sacked, a lot. 28 sacks for a massive loss of 178 total yards have done nothing to help, but the onus, as usual, lies on a mediocre offensive line that simply is not giving Ryan the protection and time to throw the ball.
Then, there is the underachievement of lead running back Todd Gurley. He’s managing just 3.7 yards-per-carry, though he is responsible for nine of the team’s 12 touchdowns. Ryan has struggled to carry from the pocket, with his own 3.2-yard average. The Falcons only average 3.7 yards-per-carry as a team, and there is no one on the roster better than 4.7 per, and that is Calvin Ridley on a non-qualifying three attempts. The most by a rusher with at least 20 attempts is just 4.4, owned by Ito Smith who’s built up 111 yards and a TD.
Those are hardly hallmarked statistics, and while the Falcons are just 3-point dogs in this affair, it is hard to see many advantages working for it beyond the fact Atlanta hosts this Sunday’s affair. Then again, is home field advantage much of one in nearly empty stadiums? I digress.