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Atlanta vs. New Orleans NFL Preview: Week 3 Free Pick

Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints NFL Week 3 NFL Gambling & Free Predictions

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Week 3: Falcons vs Saints Preview

Date: Sunday, September 26, 2010
Venue: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Broadcast: FOX
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Betting Lines from BetOnline.com
Money Line: Falcons +170, Saints -205
Spread: Saints -4
Over/Under: 49
Bet now @ BetUs.com!

Atlanta Falcons (1-1)

The Atlanta Falcons have started 2010 pretty much exactly as expected. They stayed close in a tough road matchup against smashmouth Pittsburgh in Week 1 before losing in overtime; they dominated at home against the woeful Arizona Cardinals last week.

After Pittsburgh bottled up Michael Turner in Week 1, Atlanta got back to doing what it does best: running the football effectively and going over the top once in a while with its respectable passing offense. Michael Turner ran for 75 yards on nine carries before leaving with a groin pull against Arizona. Jason Snelling took his place and the Falcons didn’t miss a beat; he ran for 129 yard and two scores on 24 carries.

Snelling’s performance was significant, as it showed that the Falcons can run with or without Turner. If Turner’s groin acts up or keeps him out this week, Snelling can shoulder the load. After a ho-hum Week 1, Matt Ryan got things going against Arizona, throwing three touchdown passes – including one to his top target Roddy White.

So we know Atlanta should bring an above-average offense to New Orleans this week. We also know that, though the Saints are great at forcing turnovers, they still give up plenty of plays, especially on the ground.

But what about the Falcons’ defense? Atlanta is allowing just 180 passing yards per game. Careful with that stat. Pittsburgh and Atlanta threw Dennis Dixon and Derek Anderson at them – not Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner.

Drew Brees will tell us if the Falcons’ secondary has actually improved.

New Orleans Saints (2-0)

It’s been a bit of a grind but the Saints have two victories in two weeks. They’ve relied on defensive turnovers to get good field position and, while Brees has been solid as can be, they haven’t totally unleashed him yet. The Saints used plenty of Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush in Weeks 1 and 2. Bush is out with a broken leg now but Thomas should again get lots of carries, as the Falcons’ run defense wasn’t great against Rashard Mendenhall or Tim Hightower.

I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop on the Saints’ defense. I just can’t see how they can keep up the turnover pace they set last year. Eventually, they’ll start getting burned for their gambles. If the Falcons play like they did against Arizona last week, could they punish the Saints?

The pick:

I expect a shootout here. The Falcons haven’t been truly tested defensively. They shut down two second-string-caliber quarterbacks but didn’t shut down two first-string running backs. In theory, that means the Saints should really move the ball on them.

But I do expect Atlanta to push back. The Saints battled an aging Brett Favre missing his top wide receiver in Week 1 and a still-raw Alex Smith in Week 2. Matty Ice should give them a tougher test. In the end, I think the Saints’ home-field advantage and their powerhouse offense will still get them past the Falcons, but this should be a back-and-forth battle.

Atlanta at New Orleans Gambling Trends:

Atlanta is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Atlanta’s last 5 games when playing New Orleans
Atlanta is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against New Orleans
New Orleans is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
New Orleans is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing Atlanta
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Atlanta’s last 8 games
New Orleans is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Atlanta
New Orleans is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games at home

Falcons vs Saints prediction: Saints 31, Falcons 24

Money Line: Saints -205
Spread: Saints -4
Over/Under: OVER 49

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