NFL Picks: Falcons vs. Saints Week 1 Picks & Odds

Jeff Grant

Thursday, May 23, 2013 2:41 PM GMT

Thursday, May. 23, 2013 2:41 PM GMT

Sean Payton is back with the New Orleans Saints after a one-year hiatus, which makes them dangerous home favorites against the Atlanta Falcons to open up the 2013 NFL season.

Let’s take a closer look at the NFL odds for this Week 1 matchup in the NFC South division at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 8.

So close 

Atlanta came up just short to advancing to Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens, as it suffered a 28-24 setback to the San Francisco 49ers as 3.5-point home underdogs in the 2013 NFC Championship Game. 

The Atlanta Falcons may have come up empty in the closing minutes of that affair after coming away with an emotional 30-28 victory over the Seattle Seahawks just a week before. 

Time to move on 

The New Orleans Saints finished the 2012 NFL regular season with a 7-9 straight up and against-the-spread (ATS) record, which didn’t surprise many due to the tumultuous offseason it endured. 

The Saints still managed to rank third in the league in averaging 28.8 points per game, but they allowed 440.1 yards per game on the defensive end—56.7 yards more than the New York Giants that finished 29th in that category. 

Weapons galore 

NFL handicappers are certainly aware of the amount of weapons that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has at his disposal, especially with the return of veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez and the addition of longtime St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson. 

Atlanta is going to be a popular OVER choice in terms of the betting total during the 2013 campaign, considering finished behind just six teams in averaging 26.2 points per game a season ago. 

Back in the fold 

The Bountygate scandal basically crippled the Saints last year, with head coach Sean Payton being suspended for the entire year, while defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was virtually banished from a professional sideline. 

Payton is reunited with star quarterback Drew Brees, while the defensive will get back to pressuring opposing quarterbacks with the arrival of coordinator Rob Ryan—formerly of the Dallas Cowboys.

[gameodds]16/226871/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Saints as one of their early Week 1 NFL picks, as they’ve gone 16-5 ATS in their last 21 home games. 

NFL Pick:  New Orleans Saints -2

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