Postpone taking down that Christmas tree and cleaning up the mess left behind by relatives and enjoy your weekly dose of Monday Night Football.
Watch the New Orleans Saints (11-3) host the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) to wrap up the last of the Christmas weekend games, and hopefully the holiday lights will not surge all the electrical power from the Superdome like last week at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
Let’s take a look at your Monday night entertainment.
The last time Atlanta met the Saints in week 9, they put a pretty good fight falling just three points short of a win. One might blame penalties on the outcome of the last game as the Falcons had 10 penalties for a total of 85 yards.
However, Matt Ryan, errr Matty Ice, is ready to make his mark at the Superdome and take down the Saints on their home turf.
The offense currently ranks 9th in the league for passing yards with 255.8 yards per game. Ryan has 3,698 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also has the help of running back Michael Turner (1,129 yds, 4.1 yds/att, 9 touchdowns) and wide receivers Roddy White (1,100 yds, 12.9 yds/rec, 8 touchdowns), Tony Gonzalez (826 yds, 11.2 yds/rec, 7 touchdowns), and Julio Jones (755 yds, 18 yds/rec, 5 touchdowns).
When the Falcons first met the Saints earlier this season, things were a little shaky on the offensive line. Left tackle Will Svitek was making his third start of the year and Joe Hawley was making his second pro start at right guard. The Falcons have improved their pass protection since that game. They have given up 26 sacks, ranking them 9th in the league, but they have given up 74 quarterback hits, ranking them 26th in the league.
The Falcons defense will have the real challenge against Drew Brees’ arm and the stellar Saints offense. While the Falcons have held their opponents to only 96.6 rushing yards per game, making them fourth in the league, they are not as effective at stopping the passing game (17th in the league with 230.6 yards), which is the Saints ultimate scoring weapon.
Getting the pressure on Brees early in the game will be key to keeping the Saints within the Falcons grasp. Defensive end John Abraham leads the team with 8.5 sacks, and outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has contributed 4 sacks to the team total of 30.
Leading the NFC South, this Saints team is on fire, especially their exceptional offense. Quarterback Drew Brees continues to burn defenses and wow the crowds throwing for 4,780 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
The Saints offense is second in the league for points scored (32.1 per game) and leads the league in passing yards with 331.4 yards per game. With receivers like Jimmy Graham (1,171 yds, 13.5 yds/rec, 9 td), Marques Colston (917 yds, 13.9 yds/rec, 5 td), and Lance Moore (574 yds, 11.5 yds/rec, 8 td), they definitely give Brees a hand in lighting up the field.
If Atlanta has a shot at beating the Saints, it’s because the Saints’ defense is not at the same level as their offense. New Orleans has allowed 256.1 passing yards per game (ranking them 28th in the league) and given up 21.9 points per game (16th in the league).
On November 13th, the Saints easily dominated a majority of the game until the end, when the defense allowed Atlanta to march 85 yards in 1:55 and kick a 27-yard field goal to tie it up. Strong safety Roman Harper and defensive end Will Smith have led New Orleans in sacks for the team (Harper with 7.5 and Smith with 6.5).
My Saints-Falcons Prediction
My initial gut was to go with the Saints, hands down, but I don’t think it’s going to be a blow out for them. Atlanta has shown lots of improvement since they beginning of the season, and they even held the Saints to only a three point win last time they met. With the team eager to give itself a chance to win the NFC South crown, there is no holding back for this Atlanta team.
Drew Brees and his offense are on fire. End of story. While the Saints defense may struggle, the Falcons defense is not strong enough to hold back the power of the Saints offense, especially on their home turf.
Final Score: New Orleans Saints: 35 | Atlanta Falcons: 28
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
- Falcons-Saints Date: Monday, December 26 at 8:30 PM on ESPN
- Falcons-Saints Announcers: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and Jon Gruden
- Falcons-Saints Point Spread: Saints -6.5
- Falcons-Saints Over-Under Odds: 53
Image source: iSportsWeb