The New Orleans Saints will take a short trip East for a divisional showdown with the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday (11/26/23). Get Saints vs. Falcons odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is Falcons to win at -105 odds on the moneyline.
Saints vs Falcons Prediction
It’s only November, but there will be a playoff-like atmosphere in Atlanta this weekend when the Saints come to town. With the Falcons just a game behind the Saints for first place in the NFC South, so much hinges on this matchup. If the Saints win, the Falcons will be sitting at 4-7 compared to 6-5 for New Orleans, and they’ll have no ability to grab the head to head tiebreaker. If the Falcons win- it’s game on. They’ll move into a tie atop the division, and of course control that tiebreaker for the time being, pending the second matchup in the regular season finale.
So who will come out on top? As the lines indicate, it’s an incredibly close call. Both teams are coming off of a bye week, so there’s no rest differential, but the break was probably more important for Atlanta, as it came at the end of a three-game skid. They are hoping that the time off will help the momentum flip, as will a move back to Desmond Ridder at quarterback. The second-year pro out of Cincinnati was the starter to open the season before being benched for Taylor Heinicke, who was given just two starts, both of which were very close losses for Atlanta.
Ridder re-entered the lineup in relief of an injured Heinicke, but head coach Arthur Smith has implied that the change is permanent. It’s hard to say that going back to Ridder will be a solution, or if it’s just change for the sake of doing something as Smith’s seat heats up. The offense didn’t take too much of a step back with Heinicke, if any, so it’s definitely fair to wonder if Smith is just trying anything he can to get the team out of the rut in which they’ve found themselves. Many fans and analysts, of course, have hypothesized that Smith himself is the issue, but he’s likely safe through the end of the season, or at least until the Falcons are formally eliminated from the postseason.
As for the Saints, they’re dealing with a murky quarterback situation of their own, but for quite different reasons. Derek Carr hasn’t been perfect in his New Orleans debut season, but he’s still firmly holding onto the starting job. He is however in concussion protocol, and while he was a full practice participant on Wednesday, it’s hard to know what his status is. Jameis Winston finished the game in which Carr sustained the injury, so he’d likely get the start if Carr is unable to go, although I’d also expect a heavy dose of Taysom Hill.
Regardless of who ends up starting at quarterback for either team, this is a great value spot to bet on Atlanta. This has to be the bottom of the market for them, and with all of the close losses, there’s a good chance that they’re better than their record shows. With plenty of talent still on both sides of the ball, they’re my pick here on the moneyline as a very narrow underdog in a home divisional game.
Saints vs Falcons Prediction: Falcons ML (-105)
Saints vs Falcons Best Odds
Vegas sees this game as being incredibly close, with the Saints set as favorites of just one point. New Orleans is also -115 on the moneyline, compared to -105 for Atlanta, and both sides of the total of 42.5 are -110.
Saints vs Falcons Key Injuries
The big injury question for the Saints is of course quarterback Derek Carr, who is in concussion protocol, and Taylor Heinicke has picked up a hamstring injury for Atlanta.
Saints vs Falcons Key Matchups
The Falcons will look to establish the run at home against a solid Saints run defense, while Atlanta will also need a strong ground game to lighten the load for whoever does start at quarterback.
Falcons Run Game vs. Saints Ground Defense
Despite having one of the most talented running back duos in the league, the pairing of dynamic rookie Bijan Robinson and second-year man Tyler Allgeier, the Falcons are dead-average in rushing offense EPA. Interestingly enough, they’re also fourth in PFF’s run blocking grade, so it’s hard to know exactly where and why things are going wrong; this is another instance where Smith’s coaching might be at fault.
The Saints run defense is an interesting unit; they rank second in EPA and fourth in success rate, but just 19th in DVOA due to a very weak schedule to this point. PFF ranks them fifth, and correctly considers linebacker Demario Davis to be the anchor of the unit with a stellar grade of 86.6 on run defense snaps.
Saints Run Game vs. Falcons Ground Defense
By most metrics, the New Orleans rushing offense is very average. This is due in part to the uncharacteristic mediocrity of Alvin Kamara, who is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and has not been the boost to the run game he was expected to be after his suspension. Jamaal Williams has been pretty awful, averaging under three yards per tote, another discouraging trend while running behind a line that has been pretty average by most accounts.
Like the Saints, the Falcons run defense grades drastically differently based on the metric, due to a less-challenging schedule; they’re third in EPA and 15th in DVOA. Also like New Orleans, PFF is very high on them- they’re tops in those rankings. Newcomer Jessie Bates has been phenomenal coming up from his safety position to provide support, while second-year linebacker Nate Landman has been key as well in the middle of the field.