Atlanta Falcons (+6.5) at New Orleans Saints
With neither team wanting to win the pathetic NFC South, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that it would ultimately come down to this. Granted, ineptitude across the division has now included the Carolina Panthers in the discussion, but the Falcons will either be eliminated from the playoffs or head into the final week of the season with a tiebreaker over the Saints via a season sweep.
The most recent image of the New Orleans Saints was a public thrashing of one of the few teams having a worse season than them – the Bears on Monday Night Football. New Orleans has now won two of its last three games and looks poised to make the run – really, bumbling stumble – to the NFC South crown that everyone expected. But, why?
If the Saints have proven anything this season, it’s that they are a vastly different team from years past. Not only have they played horrible football – 6-8 overall, 2-4 in their last six games – but they haven’t won a home game since Halloween. A ‘down year’ is not utterly surprising, but a ‘down year’ while also losing what was a palpable home field advantage is somewhat jarring.
Only one conclusion can be drawn from this: the Saints are such a poor football team that even their high-powered offense and home field advantage cannot overcome their deficiencies. Why should they be expected to do so now? After all, Atlanta, disastrous in its own right, has an offense equally capable of hanging with the Saints all game.
Unfortunately, the Falcons’ defense – edging out the Saints for the most yards allowed in the league – won’t be able to hold down New Orleans entirely. The Saints win by a field goal, but the Falcons beat the spread.
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