Atlanta and New Orleans renew their NFC South rivalry at Caesars Superdome on Sunday. Find out why we like the road underdogs at +6 in our Falcons and Saints picks for Week 9.
The Atlanta Falcons travel to New Orleans on Sunday to renew their intense NFC South rivalry with the Saints. With key players missing on both sides, this critically important game brings many unknown factors that will have a strong impact on the betting advantages.
Will New Orleans keep pace with the first-place Buccaneers or will Atlanta — a 6-point underdog — continue to stay in striking distance of one of the three wild-card berths?
Here are my picks and predictions for the NFL Week 9 matchup between the Falcons and Saints (odds via DraftKings; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5 star scale).
Falcons vs. Saints Week 9 Game Info
Date/Time: Sunday, November, 1 p.m. ETTV: FOXLocation: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LAWeather: Indoors
Falcons vs. Saints Odds
New Orleans opened as a 6-point favorite at most sportsbooks, dropping to 5.5 after news that quarterback Jameis Winston was out for the season. The line has returned to Saints -6 with the majority of bets backing New Orleans.
The Saints are 4-3 against the spread and Atlanta is 3-4 ATS. The Saints are 1-1 at home, having only played two games at Caesars Superdome due to Hurricane Ida. The Falcons, meanwhile, are 2-1 on the road.
New Orleans has a 3-4 Over/Under record, while the Falcons have cashed the Over in four of seven games. The Saints have hit the Over in both games in New Orleans, while Atlanta has gone Over the total twice in three contests. More than 75 percent of bettors, according to the SBR consensus as of Thursday afternoon, were backing the Under.
Falcons vs. Saints Picks
Atlanta +6 (-110) ???Under 42 (-110) ???
SEE ALSO: Week 9 Parlay Picks
Falcons vs. Saints Predictions
Atlanta +6 (-110)
This matchup is one of the NFL’s most underrated rivalries. Since 2010, 12 of their 22 meetings have been decided by six points or fewer, with four contests going to overtime. The rivalry will be renewed in Week 9 with key players missing from both sides, though.
Atlanta wide receiver Calvin Ridley announced that he will be stepping away from football indefinitely to concentrate on his mental health, while a torn ACL has ended Winston's season. The Saints were also told that All-Pro wideout Michael Thomas will not be returning to the team this year after a setback while recovering from ankle surgery.
New Orleans' offense has been operating at elite efficiency throughout the season, minimizing turnover chances for Winston. Despite the conservative scheme, Winston was able to connect for the occasional downfield play with wideout Marquez Callaway. The Saints are rumored to start quarterback Taysom Hill, who just cleared concussion protocol from Week 5. Hill brings a completely different game plan, one that will likely lean heavily on the run. With Hill unable to practice the last few weeks, it’s easy to see New Orleans' offense struggling to gain consistency against a division rival.
While the loss of Ridley hurts the Falcons' passing attack, his impact on the offense this season was minimal. Ridley only played in five games and ranks just 38th in receptions among all wide receivers. Atlanta still has a core of weapons for quarterback Matt Ryan, including the dynamic Cordarrelle Patterson, Russell Gage, Mike Davis, and a pair of solid tight ends in Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst.
New Orleans is just 3-5 ATS at home against Atlanta when laying six points or more. These games are always close and this number is simply too high for the Saints to cover without their starting quarterback. So we're backing Atlanta in our Week 9 Falcons and Saints picks.
Under 42 (-110)
I project a low-scoring game, and still like the Under even though it has dropped from an opening 45-point line. Atlanta plays at the 10th-fastest neutral game script pace, but will be on the road against one of the NFL’s top defenses. Without Ridley, the Falcons will struggle to post points in New Orleans, a place they have failed to crest 17 points in three of their past four games.
With Hill under center, especially coming off a concussion, I expect a conservative game plan from New Orleans head coach Sean Payton. In Hill’s four starts last year, the under was 3-1, including a 24-9 win over the Falcons at home.
The Saints simply do not have enough offensive weapons to push the pace against Atlanta. Their offensive attack will center around running back Alvin Kamara, and his recently reunited backfield teammate Mark Ingram.
Despite producing an annual fast-paced offense, the Falcons’ road games tend to play to the Under. If I eliminate their magical Super Bowl season of 2016-2017, Atlanta’s road games have hit the Under at a 60 percent rate (30-20-1), per BetLabs. This season, two of its road games have played to the Over, but that was against a superior offense (Tampa Bay) and a poor defense (Miami). New Orleans is the exact opposite of both of those situations.
I project another close game between two heated NFC South rivals. The injuries and compromised offenses lead me to back the Under, even with a total that has dropped three points since Sunday night.
SEE ALSO: NFL Underdog Picks Week 9
Picks made on 11/04/2021 at 11:13 a.m. ET.