New Orleans started slow, dropping its first four games of the season in close contests. It took them a little while to get going offensively. Since those four losses, Drew Brees and the Saints offense has poured it on teams, leading to three wins in their last four games.
Atlanta is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum right now. Everyone is waiting for the Falcons to slip up and lose their first game, but week in and week out they continue to surprise and find ways to win.
Will they have enough to deal a devastating blow to their NFC South divisional rival in this one? Or, will the Saints notch another W and get one step closer to making a shocking run for the playoffs?
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
When: Sunday, Nov. 11, at 1:00 p.m. ET
Watch: FOX and DIRECTV: 706
Live Stream: NFL.com
Listen: NFL Audio Pass
Spread: Atlanta -3 (via Bovada)
The Saints ran the score up on the Falcons the last time these two NFC South teams squared off. You’ve got to imagine they’ve been preparing for this game for some time in the back of their minds. A win here effectively knocks out the Saints from playoff contention and gives the Falcons sole control over the division.
The Falcons will run the ball and control the clock and win by four or more points.
Over/Under: 53.5 (via Bovada)
Defense is an afterthought for the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons D is just good enough to hold tough when needed. That leaves the possibility for a very high-scoring game in the dome this Sunday.
While the scoring will be high, the Falcons have only allowed eight passing touchdowns and haven’t given up more than 28 points in a game this year. If there is a time this season their secondary will be tested, it’s Week 10 against Drew Brees and his stable of weapons.
Injury Report via CBS Sports (as of 11/8)
DE John Abraham, Elbow, Probable
DT Jonathan Babineaux, Hamstring, Questionable
WR Kevin Cone, Groin, Questionable
WR Harry Douglas, Ankle, Questionable
DT Peria Jerry, Knee, Questionable
S Charles Mitchell, Calf, Questionable
CB Asante Samuel, Hip, Probable
RB Jason Snelling, Illness, Probable
LB Sean Weatherspoon, Ankle, Out
New Orleans Saints
DE Junior Galette, Ankle, Questionable
WR Courtney Roby, Shoulder, Questionable
RB Darren Sproles, Hand, Out
Fantasy Big Plays
New Orleans: QB Drew Brees
Let’s face it, the New Orleans Saints aren’t going to run the ball effectively even if they employ a timeshare between Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. The Falcons aren’t the best run defenders in the league, but they’ll be able to limit the pass-first Saints on the ground.
That leaves things up to quarterback Drew Brees, as usual. It hasn’t been an ideal season for the star quarterback, but he’s still putting up some excellent fantasy numbers.
Expect Brees to be throwing early and often in the dome on Sunday. He might throw some picks, but he’s bound to connect on a few long balls and inflate his stats if the Falcons get out to a quick lead.
Projected Stats: 340 yards, 3-4 TDs, 2 INT
Atlanta: RB Michael Turner
Earlier in the week I talked about the Falcons’ wide receivers in this game. While they’ll both undoubtedly have big games against the poor Saints secondary, the biggest fantasy play in this matchup will be Michael Turner.
The Saints are the league’s worst rush defenders, allowing 176.5 yards per game on the ground.
Turner has begun to find his form and get in rhythm in recent weeks and it’s a good thing. This matchup will be his best of the season and will reward owners who were willing to stick with him this season.
Projected Stats: 21+ carries, 122+ yards, 1-2 TDs
Key to Victory
The key for the Falcons will be to stop Drew Brees from beating them. Rushing three or four and letting him sit back in the pocket is not a viable strategy; he’ll pick their secondary apart. That leaves them in a dilemma. Blitz and risk Brees taking shots if he gets time, or risk giving him time to sit comfortably and beat you anyway.
For the Saints, the game plan is very simple: Outscore the Falcons. There’s no way the Saints defense is going to be able to stall this offense. Their only choice is to attempt to out-duel them.
The Falcons are just too polished offensively to not take advantage of the disaster on defense for the Saints. Don’t let last week’s performance against the struggling Philadelphia Eagles fool you; the Saints defense is bad, real bad.
Whether it’s Matt Ryan or Michael Turner, expect a heavy dose of Falcons offense. Brees will lead a late comeback and boost his stats, but it won’t be enough as the Falcons defense will close the door before the Saints can get back in it.
Final Score: Atlanta 34, Saints 27