NFL Week 10: New Orleans Saints (6-3) at Atlanta Falcons (5-3)
With the division lead at stake, first-place New Orleans looks to win consecutive games for the first time in a month by cooling off the Falcons on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
The Saints (6-3) are one-half game ahead of Atlanta (5-3) but haven’t always looked like a division leader of late. New Orleans followed a 62-7 win over Indianapolis in Week 7 with a stunning 31-21 loss to then-winless St. Louis. The Saints rebounded from that defeat with last Sunday’s 27-16 win over a Tampa Bay team that beat them Oct. 16. The Saints haven’t posted back-to-back wins since a four-game run Sept. 18-Oct. 9, but they have won an NFL-best nine straight November games dating to 2009.
The Falcons also have done a good job of taking care of business in November. Last Sunday’s 31-7 win over the Colts was their sixth straight November victory. RB Michael Turner and the Falcons have really kicked their ground attack into high gear while winning four of their last five (134.8 ypg). Conversely, the Saints have been ground down to the tune of 140.2 ypg during that interval and may not have MLB Jonathan Vilma again as he nurses a knee injury.
After being dissected by Aaron Rodgers in Week 5, Atlanta has tightened up its pass defense in its past three outings (163.7 ypg), holding Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton in check. And this would be a good time for new DE Ray Edwards to start making an impact against a New Orleans O-line that has left QB Drew Brees vulnerable to abuse more often than usual. Brees has been sacked 19 times … of course, he’s also thrown a TD in 36 consecutive games (a streak second only to Johnny Unitas) and is on track to destroy Dan Marino’s single-season passing record.
New Orleans has won four of five at the Georgia Dome, including two straight. The Falcons have suffered only two other losses in their last 22 regular-season home games.
NFL Football betting line — Pick’em (49.5)
RECORD VS. SPREAD — New Orleans 5-4; Atlanta 4-4
SERIES RECORD — Falcons lead 46-38
LAST MEETING — Saints beat Falcons, 17-14, Dec. 27, 2010
LAST WEEK — Saints beat Buccaneers 27-16; Falcons beat Colts 31-7
SAINTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (1), RUSH (9), PASS (2)
SAINTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (15), RUSH (17), PASS (14)
FALCONS OFFENSE — OVERALL (14), RUSH (13), PASS (17)
FALCONS DEFENSE — OVERALL (14), RUSH (17), PASS (19)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Teams split season series last year with each team winning on road. Each game decided by three points, including Atlanta’s 27-24 win in OT. … Saints 8-2 against Falcons with Sean Payton as coach. … Saints QB Drew Brees first player in NFL history with more than 3,000 yards passing (3,004) in first nine games of a season. … Brees has completed 20 or more passes an NFL-record 29 consecutive games. … Jimmy Graham leads NFL tight ends with 55 catches for 791 yards. … RB Darren Sproles second in NFL with 56 catches. Graham third. … Falcons QB Matt Ryan 8-1 in home division games with 10 TDs and three interceptions. … Atlanta’s Julio Jones had three catches for 131 yards against Colts last week and become league’s first rookie since 1970 with TD catches of at least 50 and 80 yards in same game. They were first two TD catches of Jones’ career. … Falcons 22-5 at Georgia Dome since 2008, their first season with coach Mike Smith.