Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Matchup Preview (12/6/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online
The New Orleans Saints travel just a few hundred miles northeast to Atlanta for a rivalry match. It’s a divisional rematch game that, if it weren’t for Drew Brees’ injury, most fans would turn away from. Oddsmakers have this game as a 3 point spread in favor of backup quarterback Taysom Hill and the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons (4-7) look to prove their last game, in which they blew out the Raiders 43-6, was not an anomaly. The Saints (9-2), meanwhile, look to expand a lead in the two-team race in the NFC South against Tampa Bay.
For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Matchup Page.
Date: December 6th, 2020
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
TV Coverage: FOX
Falcons vs. Saints Live Stream
Where can you watch Falcons vs. Saints online? You can stream this game, and many other NFL games live online with Hulu. Hulu has a 7 Day free trial and is cheaper than cable options at $5.99/month. Watch Falcons vs. Saints Free Online Now.
*Indicates Expected Week 13 Return
IR list: Damontae Kazee (achilles), Jordan Miller* (oblique), Olamide Zaccheaus (toe). Questionable: James Carpenter (groin), Julio Jones (hamstring), Todd Gurley II (knee).
New Orleans Saints:
IR list: Johnson Bademosi (undisclosed), Jalen Dalton (triceps), Drew Brees (ribs), Bennie Fowler* (shoulder), Terron Armstead (covid), Sheldon Rankins* (knee), Justin Hardee* (groin), Derrick Kelly (covid), Blake Gillkin (back). Questionable: Anthony Lanier (undisclosed), Janoris Jenkins (knee), Marquez Callaway (knee), Deonte Harris (neck), Ty Montgomery (hamstring), Andrus Peat (concussion).
Atlanta Falcons Analysis
The Atlanta Falcons are coming off one of the largest blowout wins of any team all season. They torched the Raiders on both sides of the ball, winning by a score of 43-6. The game was both the most points Atlanta has scored all season and the fewest points they have allowed all season. In short, it was the game Falcons fans had been waiting for all season.
But the magical performance came all too late. The Falcons at 4-7 have essentially no hope for an NFC South championship, and wildcard chances are slim. The rout last weekend was nothing more than a moral victory. But moral victories can go far. Beyond giving fans hope for next season, the win was good for the locker room energy and makes players want to stay with their team. Back-to-back wins this week against a division rival will solidify excitement among players, coaching staff, and the front office.
It will be difficult, however, for the Falcons to win consecutive games. It was only two Sundays ago when the Falcons lost 24-9 against this New Orleans team, and that was still with Taysom Hill at quarterback for the Saints. The Falcons struggled to move the ball, with just 52 yards and the ground and only 196 more in the air. They converted just 2 of 14 third downs. Matt Ryan was sacked 8 times. The stats go on, none in favor of Atlanta. It was one of the games in which the Falcons struggled the most, and having only been played two Sundays ago, and there is little reason why much would be different this Sunday.
But Atlanta’s offense has not been bad this year and is certainly better than their team record indicates. With 26.8 points per game (11th), and 374.8 yards per game (10th), it is fair to call them a top 10 offense. As I noted in my last Atlanta Falcons preview, however, their offensive success is not because of a strong ground game. Their 103.5 rushing yards per game (23rd) ranks near the bottom of the league. But the underwhelming rushing numbers are not for lack of attempts, either. At 27.8 rushing attempts per game (12th), they rank just outside of the top 10. Some blame for Atlanta’s rushing woes can be attributed to Todd Gurley II for his poor 3.7 yards per carry, but I think a fair amount of criticism should be directed towards Atlanta’s weak offensive line. With 28 sacks on the year, Atlanta’s offensive line allows the 10th most sacks per game in the league. The stat is a clear indicator of an underperforming front five. They will be facing a New Orleans team that gets to the quarterback 5th most in the league with 3 sacks per game. That drastic mismatch may come into play in this game.
Atlanta’s offense success is almost because of Matt Ryan. His 3163 passing yards (5th) ranks top 5 in the league and accounts for a whopping 73.5 percent of Atlanta’s total offense. He’s not in the MVP conversation this year, but he is by far Atlanta’s most valuable player. Ryan’s 17 touchdown passes (15th), 64.9% completion percentage (24th), and 8 interceptions (11th most) are not very impressive, but he’s putting his team in positions to score. Not to mention that any quarterback will naturally throw more interceptions with more attempts. Ryan’s 427 passing attempts (2nd) is second in the league, only behind Tom Brady.
For the first time since 2013, the Atlanta Falcons may have a leading receiver not named Julio Jones. Right now, second-year wide receiver Calvin Ridley leads the team with 797 yards on the season. Jones has now had to miss 3 games on the season because of a hip injury early in the season, and most recently, a hamstring strain. His 84.6 receiving yards per game, however, still ranks at the top of the team. If Jones does lose his receiving crown this year, it will not have been the result of an off-year.
The defense of Atlanta is really where this team has struggled. With 391.7 yards allowed (27th) and 25.5 points allowed per game (17th), they have clearly had difficulties holding opposing offenses back. But last Sunday against the Raiders, we saw a very different story. The Falcons defense held Las Vegas to just 243 total yards, 6 points, and maybe most incredibly, a 25% third-down conversion rate (3 for 12). They amazingly caused 5 turnovers and sacked Carr 5 times. Not a single Raider player reached 80 yards from scrimmage, including the NFL’s 5th most leading rusher, Josh Jacobs. Players like Deion Jones, who has been to the pro bowl before, finally played to their expectations. Jones’s 67-yard interception return from a touchdown was the 5th score of his 5-year career. If the Falcons want to upset the Saints at home, they will need a repeat performance from their defense.
Atlanta needs just a stronger run game and better defense to be a contender in this league. Their offense has been quietly producing all year, and the Matt Ryan, Julio Jones connection continues to be sparked. The Falcons have struggled against the Saints in recent years, having gone just 1-5 in their last 6 meetings, but have a fair chance at improving that record this weekend against a backup at quarterback at the Saints.
Atlanta Falcons Depth Chart
New Orleans Saints Analysis
The New Orleans Saints will be without Drew Brees at quarterback for the third consecutive game on Sunday. The future hall of famer suffered a collapsed lung against the 49ers in week 10 and is yet to return. He is on the IR list right now and will not play on Sunday against the Falcons. Taysom Hill will start at quarterback for a third consecutive game.
But the past two weeks were not Hill’s first time receiving snaps on the Saints offense. Sean Payton has famously used his backup in various positions, and in various scenarios, for the past couple of seasons now. Hill has taken snaps at quarterback, wide receiver, and running back. Last year he had 156 rushing yards and 234 yards receiving. He also tallied an additional 55 yards through the air. So Hill is not just an unconventional backup for having already received snaps, but also for the manner in which he’s been used. In his two starts, he has completed 27 of 39 pass attempts for 311 yards, no touchdowns yet, and a pick. He’s also rushed for 93 yards. He’s a dual-threat back up with plenty of experience. The strangeness of his play may confuse an Atlanta defense that has mostly struggled this year.
Taysom Hill will have pro bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas at his disposal on Sunday. Thomas missed the first half of the season due to both hamstring and ankle injuries. The 27-year-old led the league in both receptions and receiving yards last season. His 9 touchdowns came in tied for second. In his 4 games back, he has averaged 5 receptions for 58 yards but is yet to find the endzone. He will have an opportunity to do so against an Atlanta defense that allows the 2nd most passing yards per game with 291.5.
Alvin Kamara has fortunately not been injured this year and has found himself leading the Saints in both rushing and receiving yards. Kamara’s 196 touches comes in 6th among all players. With Brees out, Kamara will play the central role in this Saints offense. In the past couple of weeks, the running back has seen an increase in rushing attempts and a decrease in targets. Going forward, he will likely continue to play a more traditional role as a running back while the Saints’ veteran quarterback remains out. Atlanta plays decently against the run, allowing just 100.3 rushing yards per game (6th), but Kamara’s elusiveness and talent can win the battle against anyone in the league. Expect a big game out of him.
The Saints offense has not collapsed with Brees out. In two games without him starting, the Saints have averaged 334 yards and 27.5 points per game. Those numbers closely match New Orleans’ season-long averages of 366 yards (13th) and 29.6 points (5th) per game. If the Saints’ offense loses the battle against a hot Falcons defense, it’s unfair to entirely blame it on Brees’ injury.
The New Orleans defense has been elite. They allow just 20.5 points (5th) and 284.9 (1st) yards per game. No other defense in the league allows fewer yards. They’re strong against the pass, allowing just 208.3 passing yards per game (5th), but it is a tremendous rushing defense where New Orleans specializes. They allow 76.6 ground yards per game (2nd), only behind Tampa Bay. A front seven, including Cameron Jordan, Trey Hendrickson, David Onyemata, and Demario Davis, are the only 4 teammates from any team that all rank top 16 in tackles for a loss. Jordan leads the group with 11. Hendrickson’s 9.5 sacks are 2nd in the league. The Saints’ 13 interceptions are also 3rd in the league. They notably have four players, Marcus Williams, Janoris Jenkins, Malcolm Jenkins, and Patrick Robinson, with multiple INTs this year. However, Atlanta tries to attack this defense; it will be very difficult for them.
The 2020 Saints, despite injuries to their star wide receiver and veteran quarterback, remain a top 5 contender in the league. Their offense has been top 10 all year, and their defense is arguably the best in the league. At 9-2, they remain the top of the NFC South and look to avoid a late-season comeback by the Buccaneers to win the division. This game may not mean a lot to the 4-7 Falcons standings-wise, but every team loves to play spoiler for a division rival.
New Orleans Saints Depth Chart
Betting Corner: New Orleans Saints -3
Moneyline: -193 Saints, +160 Falcons
Spread: -3 Saints
Moneyline: -193 Saints
I think the spread is a lot closer than it should be. I think there is excitement about the Falcons since their 43-6 rout against the Raiders last week, but it’s being over-hyped a bit much, in my opinion. Las Vegas was a 6-4 team with a 14th ranked offense and 24th ranked defense. They are much worse than this Saints team with a top 13 offense, and 1st ranked defense. A 3 point margin seems too easy to cover in my view for New Orleans, even with Taysom Hill at quarterback.
This will be a low-scoring game. The Saints obviously have a stellar defense, Matt Ryan has struggled to find the endzone a little bit this season, and there are still some question marks to the ceiling for the Saints offense under Hill. I like the Saints to win this game, but it remains a defensive battle. Bet the under in this one.
- Michigan Sports Betting
- Illinois Sports Betting
- New York Sports Betting
- Tennessee Sports Betting
- DraftKings Illinois
- BetMGM Michigan
- FanDuel Michigan
- DraftKings Michigan
You can bet on this NFL game legally. Sports betting has been legalized in the US. You must be located in a legalized state in order to bet online.
Daily Fantasy Love/Hate
Love: Alvin Kamara
Kamara is always a fantasy love of mine, but I like him even more with Brees out. I understand his receptions will get lowered, but he is earning more attempts that make up for it. Taysom Hill might struggle in the red zone where he’s not used to quarterbacking, so Payton might call more run plays for Kamara to score.
Hate: Brian Hill, Ito Smith or Todd Gurley II
Gurley II is questionable to play this weekend against the Saints, but I don’t like him as a fantasy start either way. If he remains out, I don’t think Hill or Smith is a good option either. The Falcons rushing game has been weak all year, and they are playing one of the best run-stopping defensive lines in the league. It’s a recipe for disaster. I think the Falcons will continue to rely on Ryan’s arm to get them down the field, maybe this game more than ever. Look for other options in both daily fantasy and season-long fantasy leagues.