NEW ORLEANS — Despite the Saints being 7-1 and the Falcons being 1-7, both teams know how competitive Sunday’s game is going to be.
The Saints are a 12-point favorite, which matches the largest point spread for a favorite in this series, but don’t let that fool you. The Saints/Falcons rivalry always produces a good game.
New Orleans coming off a bye is going to look stronger than they have all season, especially with Drew Brees getting comfortable under center. He made his return two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals and played well, throwing for more than 300 yards and 3 touchdowns.
I talked to Brees in the locker room today and asked him how his thumb responded in the days after the win over Arizona. He said that it was fine, but most importantly it didn’t bother him after taking a few hits. Now, he can play with confidence knowing that he’s got some strength in his hand.
Now, Brees says he’s focused on getting a fast start on offense. Last season, the Saints scored touchdowns on five of the opening drives of their first eight games. This season, they haven’t scored one touchdown on an opening drive.
For the Falcons, this is a team that will likely get Matt Ryan back. He missed the game against the Seahawks two weeks ago after he rolled his ankle against the Rams. He was limited in practice today and is on track to play Sunday. Having Matt Ryan back is another issue the defense is going to have to work against. Remember, the Falcons still have Calvin Ridley and Julie Jones, so despite trading Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots, they’ve still got a great receiving corps.
We’re probably not going to see this Falcons team rush much. So far, they’re one of the lowest rushing teams in the league, averaging just over 60 rush yards per game. So this is a pass heavy team and granted, they’ve been throwing the ball more because they’ve played from behind for most of the season.
I expect the Saints to start fast and get a win against the Falcons, moving up to 8-1.