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Matchups Week 1: Falcons vs. Saints

Kyle Pitts

Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints

Spread: Falcons +5.5.

Game Total: 42.5

Team Totals: Falcons (18.5), Saints (24)

Weather: Dome.

The Line Report

  • The consensus line for this contest is Falcons +5.5, but there are Falcons +5 options available.
  • This line opened as Falcons +3.5.
  • This line has gradually moved up from it’s Falcons +3.5 open to its current consensus of Falcons +5.5. The peak for this line was Falcons +6, though it has primarily stayed between Falcons +5 to +5.5 since early August.
  • DraftKings Pick’Em has the Falcons +5.5.
  • Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest has the Falcons +5.5.
  • The consensus total for this contest is 42.5 points, although there are some 43-point totals available.
  • This total opened between 41.5 and 42 points. This total has ranged between 40.5 and 43 points.

Notable Injuries

Falcons: LB Deion Jones (IR), OG Jalen Mayfield (IR), CB Isaiah Oliver (IR), WR Drake London (Questionable).

Saints: LT Trevor Penning (IR), CB Paulson Adebo (Out), WR Michael Thomas (Questionable), S Tyrann Mathieu (Questionable).

The Falcons Offense vs. Saints Defense

The Saints have a fringe top-ten front four led by franchise icon Cameron Jordan. The Saints front has a considerable advantage in the trenches in this contest.

Kyle Pitts is more wide receiver than tight end in many ways. Regardless of where he lines up, he’s a unique skill position player in the league. Pitts was well contained by New Orleans in his first two matchups with the Saints. Despite last year’s outcomes, Pitts is still the player to watch in Atlanta’s offense.

Notes and Observations

  • The Falcons were 6-10 against the spread in 2021.
  • The Falcons were 7-10 on overs in 2021.
  • New Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown 30 regular season passes over the past two years.
  • Per The Edge, the Saints yielded the 15th most rushing yards to quarterbacks last season.
  • New Orleans allowed the fourth fewest rushing yards and the 15th fewest receiving yards to opposing running backs last season.
  • The Saints surrendered the eighth most receiving yards to wide receivers in 2021.
  • New Orleans gave up the fourth most PPR points to wide receivers lined up in the slot last year.
  • The Saints allowed the eighth fewest yards receiving to tight ends last season. 

The Saints Offense vs. Falcons Defense

Rookie LT Trevor Penning’s injury status makes the Saints offensive line a fringe top-ten unit. That still gives New Orleans a substantial edge against a bottom tier Falcons front four.

Few position groups were given a bigger makeover this offseason than the Saints wide receivers corps. The return of Michael Thomas, the acquisition of former LSU standout Jarvis Landry, capped off by the addition of No. 11 overall pick Chris Olave is arguably the biggest position group upgrade in the NFL this season. Add in dynamic running back Alvin Kamara, and the Saints have an exceptional group of skill position players.

Notes and Observations

  • The Saints were 9-8 against the spread in 2021.
  • The Saints were 7-10 on overs in 2021.
  • During Jameis Winston’s five-year tenure in Tampa Bay, he threw double-digit interceptions in every season with a mind blowing 30 in 2019.
  • Winston took over as the starter in New Orleans last season, but his campaign was cut short due to a season-ending knee injury.
  • Future Hall of Fame head coach Sean Payton retired this year, handing the reigns over to defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
  • Per The Edge, the Falcons allowed the tenth most rushing yards and the 12th most receiving yards to enemy running backs last season.
  • Alvin Kamara went over 100 total yards in both of his matchups with Atlanta last year.
  • Atlanta gave up the 16th most yards to wide receivers last season.
  • The Falcons gave up the second most PPR points to perimeter receivers in 2021. Michael Thomas and Chris Olave should see significant opportunities outside.
  • Atlanta was good against enemy tight ends last year, yielding the eighth fewest yards to the position.

This is What You’re Betting On in Falcons vs. Saints

A bet on the Falcons is a bet on a quarterback that has barely thrown a full game’s worth of passes over the past two seasons. Tight end Kyle Pitts and cornerback A.J. Terrell are the two best players on the Falcons. A bet on Atlanta is a bet on a rebuilding team that is otherwise filled with holes on its roster. Atlanta will play this game with a trench disadvantage on both sides of the ball. If you’re betting on Atlanta in this contest, the foundation of that stance is you’re getting a significant home underdog, against a division rival, with a new head coach and an inconsistent quarterback.

A bet on the Saints starts as a bet on a team with a line play advantage on both sides of the ball. In general, the Saints have a significantly better roster than the Falcons in just about every area. Tight end and cornerback would be the only real debates, while both teams have volatile quarterbacks. Your primary concerns if you’re betting on the Saints are that they are on the road against a division rival, with a head coach that isn’t Sean Payton, and a quarterback in Jameis Winston that can be maddeningly inconsistent.

Winner/Confidence Pool: We should expect the Saints to be selected in roughly 80% of winner pools. In confidence pools New Orleans is part of a cluster of strong options that includes the Bengals, Titans, and Eagles.

Spread Pool: At first glance giving Atlanta +5.5 points seemed like a little too much. After digging deeper into this matchup this is an appropriate spread.

Survivor: The Saints are a sneaky interesting contrarian survivor pool option this week. I’d still prefer to use the Saints at home later in the year, but I’m more open to New Orleans in survivor this week than I was just a few days ago.