Yeah, this is a big one. A really big huge one. A must-win playoff one, even. It’s good that the Falcons have rebounded after just about all of their immediate losses this season (the Bills/Dolphins lose-fest was at least separated by a bye week). Dan Quinn’s Falcons usually have no problem rallying after a tough defeat, and they’ll have to in a big way with the 9-3 New Orleans Saints coming to town. Limiting the dynamic duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara will be a big task for the defense, and the offense will have to adjust to life without Andy Levitre for the second time this week. Both of these teams are good -- but just how good? Thursday will be a good litmus test. The Saints might not have star CB Marshon Lattimore, which gives the Falcons an edge. Even if he plays, he won’t be 100%. Atlanta should be able to do just enough.
Falcons 17 - Saints 27
This game is pretty big, yeah? I really wish I felt better about this game than I do, but I just think this is a bad matchup for Atlanta. The Saints run the ball extremely well and Alvin Kamara is a major problem--especially for a team that routinely struggles to cover backs out of the backfield. The offense looks better but they have a couple mistakes that turn a potential seven points into a mere three points. Hopefully I’m wrong but this matchup just doesn’t look great for the boys in red (ALL RED!!!).
Falcons 34- Saints 31
This is going to be a wild roller coaster ride. All the momentum is currently with New Orleans. All the pressure is on Atlanta. A sensational running game and Drew Brees’ presence is enough to strike fear in every defense. Let’s also include a terrific offensive line, along with field-stretching wide receivers in Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn. This is a daunting matchup for an inconsistent Falcons defense. It’s also fair to question the offense’s ability to keep pace in a shootout. They managed to hold on against Seattle. Can they do it with added pressure against a better team on a short week? By leaning on their own productive running back duo, the Falcons will manage to create enough big plays and win the time of possession battle. Winning the turnover battle will also be essential in this must-win contest.
Falcons 28 - Saints 27
This should have all the classic elements of a Saints game, including weird turnovers, multiple lead changes, and moments where you will absolutely swear that the Saints are evil magicians. I do think that at home, on a short week, and with their season either on the line or close to it, that the Falcons will triumph. It’ll be close, though, one way or the other.