Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints: Prediction, Odds, Depth Charts (1/7/24)

The New Orleans Saints play host to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday (1/7/24) in a game with significant implications in the race for the NFC South. In this article, find the latest betting odds for the game and a full matchup preview. In addition, find our Falcons vs. Saints best bet which is the Falcons +3.

Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Prediction

While this game is taking place in the early window Sunday, both teams will have one eye toward Carolina where the Panthers are playing host to the Buccaneers. If the Panthers can get the upset win to close out the season, the winner of this game will win the humdrum NFC South. The Saints can make the playoffs through a wild-card spot with a win if the Seahawks or Packers also lose this week.

The range of outcomes here is immense for both teams. While they’re still alive in the NFC South, the Falcons could also finish with as high as the eighth pick in the draft depending on the results of other games. Meanwhile, the Saints could finish first in the division, in the wild card, or on the outside looking in. Both coaches could be fighting for their futures as Arthur Smith and Dennis Allen have left a lot to be desired.

The best unit on the field in this game is the Falcons’ defense. First-year defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, the former Saints’ defensive line coach, has done a tremendous job in his first year, leading Atlanta to the seventh-ranked defense by EPA. Veteran additions Jessie Bates III, David Onyemata, Calais Campbell and Kaden Elliss have been a huge part of the story, as well.

Alvin Kamara is currently listed as a game-time decision, and even if he does play, the Saints will likely struggle to run the ball here. Atlanta has the best run defense in the NFL by EPA, and if the Saints can’t get the ground game going on early downs, that would result in Carr facing disadvantageous third-and-long situations.

Meanwhile, the Falcons will likely be able to get their run game going against a Saints run defense that ranks 25th in DVOA. Bijan Robinson is heating up to close out the season, and he finished with 91 rushing yards and a touchdown against New Orleans earlier this season. With Atlanta’s offensive line now mostly healthy, they could own a big edge in the trenches against a Saints D-line missing Malcolm Roach, their best run-stopping defensive lineman per PFF.

There are a litany of trends that will tell you to take the Falcons here. Let’s break some of them down from our friends at Bet Labs:

  • Fade the Saints at home – Saints are 6-15 ATS (29%) at home since 2021, second-worst in the NFL
  • Fade Dennis Allen – Allen is 26-41-2 ATS (38%) in his career, third-worst of any coach over the last 20 years
  • Fade Dennis Allen in division – Allen is 7-14-2 ATS (33%) against divisional opponents, fifth-worst of any coach in the last 20 years
  • Fade Derek Carr as a favorite – Carr is 20-37-1 ATS as a favorite (35%), the worst of any QB over the last 20 years; as a favorite of 3+ points, Carr is 9-26-2 ATS (35%)
  • I personally have a Falcons NFC South ticket from before the season that’s on its last legs, and I’ll be rooting for that on Sunday. However, if forced to make a pick on this game, the only way I can advise you to go is with the Falcons as an underdog. I’d love a +3.5 on Atlanta, though, and I’d recommend waiting until kickoff to see if that number hits the market. Using the Falcons as a teaser piece is also a recommended strategy.

    Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Prediction: Falcons +3

    Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Best Odds

    In this pivotal NFC South matchup, the Saints currently find themselves as 3-point home favorites. 3 is the most key number in betting spreads, and it’s somewhat of a surprise to see that money hasn’t moved the number one way or another. The over/under sits at 42.5 points, which is just above the key numbers of 41 and 42. The current odds lead to an implied score of around 23-20.

    Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Key Injuries

    Injuries are always key to monitor in the NFL, and there are some notable ones in this game. The Falcons have quarterback Taylor Heinicke currently listed as questionable as he’s dealing with an ankle injury while center Drew Dalman has been ruled out. Meanwhile, the Saints have RB Alvin Kamara, TE Juwan Johnson, and ED Payton Turner listed as questionable.

    Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Key Matchups

    In this NFC South matchup with heavy playoff implications, there are some key matchups to monitor. Let’s break down some of the most pivotal matchups that could help determine the game’s winner on Sunday.

    Bijan Robinson vs. Saints’ Run Defense

    While this rookie season perhaps hasn’t been as dominant as most expected for Bijan Robinson, he only needs 52 yards on Sunday to break the 1,000-yard threshold. Robinson has forced 51 missed tackles this year, the sixth-most in the NFL, while averaging a stellar 3.13 yards after contact per attempt.

    In this area, the Saints’ loss has been the Falcons’ gain as they have missed their former defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen. New Orleans ranks just 25th in run defense DVOA and PFF has them as the 18th-ranked run defense in the NFL. Regardless of whether it’s Heinicke or Ridder under center for Atlanta, they’ll be leaning on Robinson plenty this week.

    Chris Olave vs. A.J. Terrell

    There have been plenty of ups and downs this season for second-year wide receiver Chris Olave, and he was held to just three catches for 26 yards in a great matchup last week. However, he crushed the Falcons earlier this season with seven catches for 114 yards. Olave is a constant threat to break a long touchdown with his straight line speed and ability to separate downfield.

    Former All Pro cornerback A.J. Terrell has been excellent lately, although he did allow four catches for 85 yards in coverage last week. That was his first game allowing more than 14 yards since Week 8, though, per PFF. Olave will see coverage from Terrell on plenty of dropbacks, and this matchup will be key on Sunday.

    Atlanta Falcons Depth Chart

    QB: Desmond Ridder
    RB1: Bijan Robinson
    RB2: Tyler Allgeier
    LWR: Drake London
    RWR: Van Jefferson
    SWR: Scotty Miller
    TE1: Kyle Pitts

    New Orleans Saints Depth Chart

    QB: Derek Carr
    RB1: Alvin Kamara
    RB2: Jamaal Williams
    LWR: Chris Olave
    RWR: A.T. Perry
    SWR: Rashid Shaheed
    TE1: Juwan Johnson

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I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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