Brees cannot afford mistakes

Saints To Earn Vital NFC South Win Over Falcons

The battle to reach the playoffs from the NFC South continues as the New Orleans Saints take on the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome.

Deion Jones intercepted Drew Brees in the endzone to secure a narrow victory for his team. The win could be crucial come the end of the season, giving Dan Quinn’s men the tie-breaker over their rivals. However, the showdown in New Orleans will be crucial in deciding the fates’ of both sides in their quest to reach the post-season.

The Saints bounced back from their defeat to Atlanta with a win over the New York Jets last week. It was not a solid performance from Sean Payton’s men as they made an abundance of sloppy mistakes. Drew Brees threw an interception, while Brandon Coleman fumbled twice.

New Orleans will he hopeful they made all of their sloppy mistakes in one match. Another poor outing and a defeat against the Falcons will put huge pressure on their final game of the campaign. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were not at their fluent best last time out. With playoff matches on the horizon – the Saints have to limit the blows they take in the ground game.

Atlanta are quietly a team on the charge. They’ve been far from their best this term and barely beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.  Patrick Murray’s missed field goal allowed them to clinch their ninth win of the campaign.

Beating the Saints and the Carolina Panthers in their next two matches could clinch the NFC South for Quinn’s team and a home match in the opening round of the post-season.

We’ll now break down the contest using the latest betting odds.

New Orleans Saints

Brees cannot afford mistakes

The Saints have displayed signs of inconsistency in the second half of the campaign. It started in their win over the Washington Redskins, needing a late comeback to see off Jay Gruden’s men. A defeat to the Los Angeles Rams followed before Payton’s men returned to their best against the Panthers.

Their first match-up with Atlanta was decided by a couple of coaching errors by Payton and Brees’ costly interception to Jones. The result has put them under pressure to perform this time around, although their last outing against the Jets was far from clean. New Orleans were not clinical in the redzone, but due to the mistakes of Jets quarterback Bryce Petty were able to close out the win.

The Saints have eased the pressure on Brees this season, with the quarterback on pace to throw under 4,500 yards for the first time since the 2009 campaign. The 38-year-old has made uncharacteristic mistakes in his last two matches, including his pick against Jones. He cannot afford to make those errors for the rest of the campaign and into the post-season should his side qualify.

Ingram broke free for a 50-yard touchdown last week, but his production was down on his starts earlier in the season. Kamara has also seen his yardage limited in the running game, although he remains a threat in the passing game. The Saints may need to limit their carries further as the number of hits are beginning to take their toll on the duo.

Marshon Lattimore was named to the Pro Bowl for his performance this season. He was schooled by Julio Jones in their first meeting. The 21-year-old needs to bounce back this time around in a contest that could well decide the outcome of the game.

Atlanta Falcons

Freeman needs another strong outing

Credit: AP Photo

The Falcons leaned on the running prowess of Devonta Freeman to see them past the Buccaneers. Freeman rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown – his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season. Atlanta boasted the strongest offense in the NFL last term. However, since the departure of Kyle Shanahan they’ve struggled to get into rhythm under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

For a team that averaged over 30 points per game in 2016 they’ve broken past the mark on just four occasions. Ryan has been off on some of his throws downfield, while he has also been guilty of loose turnovers, including three in their win over the Saints. It was remarkable that Atlanta managed to overcome his mistakes to defeat the rivals at home. The 32-year-old will not be afforded the same luxury at the Super Dome and will need to raise his game back to the MVP-level of last term.

Defensively Quinn’s men have also been a mystery. The Buccaneers were able to pass on them with ease downfield on Monday, although they were only able to put 21 points on the board. Atlanta rank ninth in total defense and have been one of the strongest units in the league against the run. In the NFC South that’s a valuable asset.

However, they cannot afford to allow Brees the same room they gave to Jameis Winston, who enjoyed his best outing of the season in the contest. Vic Beasley has been too quiet this term, notching only four sacks. Adrian Clayborn leads the way with 9.5, although six of those came in one match against the Dallas Cowboys. A consistent pass-rush is vital for Atlanta down the stretch.

Betting Options

The first match between the two sides went down to the wire. Brees had the chance to snatch a valuable road win for the Saints, which could have seen them battle for a playoff bye. They’re still in the running, despite their inconsistent play of late. Atlanta have been also been up-and-down, especially on the strength of their side – offense. Therefore it’s a hard game to call, but considering the Saints are at home and have lost only once there this term – against the New England Patriots – take them at odds of -250   with BetOnline.

Given the tight nature of the first match between the two clubs take the Falcons +6.5 on the spread at -117   with 888Sport. Atlanta’s struggles should continue on offense – the -105   odds with Betway to score under 23 points is a solid punt.

Tips Summary

New Orleans Saints To Beat Atlanta Falcons
Sunday 24th December 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: -250

Take +6.5 Spread Atlanta Falcons
Sunday 24th December 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: -117

Atlanta Falcons To Score Under 23 Points
Sunday 24th December 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: -105

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