Before a season starts, as you do your research, you start to formulate opinions on teams. You think about who will be good, who will be bad and the first action you actually get to put in play comes this week. In this matchup, I’ve got one team that I think might put some real pressure on the Buccaneers for the division title. The other, I think may be in contention for the first overall pick next year.
The Falcons are that team that might be so bad this season that they end up getting the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Marcus Mariota is under center for them and we haven’t really seen much action from him lately. His last full game was in 2020 against the Chargers. He had 88 rushing yards and a touchdown to go along with 226 passing yards and a touchdown. That, to me, is still a realistic expectation from Mariota. He will likely do more damage with his legs instead of his arm. The entire Falcons offense seems like guys that they are just piecemealing together – with the obvious exception of Kyle Pitts. They are without starting wide receiver Calvin Ridley who is suspended for gambling on games that he wasn’t a part of. Which, while stupid, is also a stupid thing to be suspended for a full season for. Regardless, even if they had Ridley, offense would be hard to make an impact and their defense isn’t anything spectacular.
The Saints have a bit of a new look themselves. Jameis Winston is back for them and looks to connect with Michael Thomas as much as possible now that he has returned from missing all of last season. Jarvis Landry is also in the fold and for a good portion of his career, he was a receiving machine. When he went to the Browns I don’t think it ever clicked the way it was expected. I think being the second option or maybe being used in the slot could help him get back to hauling in a lot of passes. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram also can provide one of the more dynamic backfields in football. Dennis Allen will also still potentially use Taysom Hill as a quarterback in certain situations to throw off the defense, but it won’t be nearly as much as Sean Payton used to use him.
I am kind of surprised that the line is this low in the game. If we are giving the Falcons three points just for the home field advantage, we are saying the Saints are 8 points better than Atlanta in New Orleans. To me, I don’t think it matters where this game is played, the Saints are a better team, have added in Tyrann Mathieu to a decent defense and should easily handle the Falcons in this. If they struggle, that should already cause a bit of concern for Saints fans. Take the Saints -5.5 at -110.
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