The NFL’s Thanksgiving Day triple-header finishes up with an NFC South clash between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons Thursday night. The Falcons defeated the Saints in the two teams’ previous meeting this season.
It has been a wildly successful year for New Orleans despite the departure of Mark Ingram, the changing of the tight ends, and a thumb injury for Drew Brees that kept him out of the lineup for several weeks. The Saints have the best receiver in the NFL in Michael Thomas, and he is ready to feast on the Falcons defense. The Saints rank ninth in scoring and 13th in points allowed, always looking to keep the wins coming in. They’ve all but won the division, and two more wins and they clinch a home game for the opening round of the playoffs.
Atlanta, on the other hand, has gone just 3-8 and had a two-game winning streak snapped with its last defeat. Matt Ryan’s long streak of consecutive games started reached an end when the team had to play Matt Schaub due to a Ryan injury, but Ryan would come back though after missing just a single game. They have shuffled through several different starting running backs but may have Devonta Freeman back this week, giving them quite a bit more experience at the position.
The spread for Thursday night’s Thanksgiving matchup favors the Saints by seven points, with the over/under set at 48.5.
Going For 10
The only two teams to beat the Saints this season have been the Rams and, you guessed it, the Atlanta Falcons. It was the first time in a Saints home game that the team failed to score a touchdown in the Brees era, as they were held to three field goals in a 26-9 loss. As a matter of fact, in both of their defeats this season, the Saints only scored nine points. They have scored 30-plus on seven occasions, so those two weeks are real outliers in what has been a very impressive season.
The New Orleans pass rush has recorded 31 sacks on the season, led by Cameron Jordan and his 9.5 sacks. The Saints have several other players that can come in and make an impact in that department, but he has led the way. And if Thomas averages eight receptions for the next five games, he’ll break the single-season record.
Looking To Sweep
It has been a season to forget for the Falcons, but they have a chance to give many-a-thousand folks a great Thanksgiving by knocking the Saints off for a second time this month. Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison stepped in and actually ran the ball decently over the last few weeks, but the return of Freeman should provide more fluidity on Ryan’s offense. He has 18 TDs and 10 picks for the season and will hope to avoid turnovers for most of this game.
The Atlanta defense is 28th out of 32 in points allowed and should aspire to be a bit better. They did hold New Orleans to nine points last time they met. They have recorded 18 sacks in 10 games.
Atlanta Surprises Again
Some way, somehow, the Falcons will get the win. Barring the unforeseen, they will be 2-0 vs. New Orleans and 2-8 vs. everyone else.
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