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Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints - 9/8/13

Atlanta Falcons (13-3) at New Orleans Saints (7-9)

NFL Football: Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)

The Line: New Orleans Saints -2 -- Over/Under: 54 See the Latest Odds


The Falcons and Saints square-off in a divisional grudge match to kickoff the NFL season in New Orleans, as both teams have Super Bowl aspirations in mind.

The Atlanta Falcons have been knocking on the door for the past few seasons as an NFC powerhouse and while they have accumulated one of the best stretches in NFL regular season history, it is their playoff follies that have resonated with fans in the state of Georgia. Matt Ryan has been a savior behind center since entering the league and the addition of Julio Jones to a receiving corps that already included Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez made the Falcons a force to be reckoned with on offense. Atlanta adds long time St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson to the fold this year as he will be called upon to carry the bulk of the ground game and you can expect to see Jackson involved in a number of goal line carries for the Dirty Birds. Defensively, the Falcons know they’re in for a tough task in week one as they have to deal with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, who have one of the league’s most explosive offenses.

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Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints - 9/8/13

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans has been in a state of turmoil over the past couple of seasons as the Bounty Gate scandal essentially wiped out the success of the team last year, but after a yearlong suspension, the Saints welcome back head coach Sean Payton to the sidelines, which will surely give the Saints a spark in their home and season opener. Brees is highly regarded as the best quarterback in the NFL and with a plethora of offensive options surrounding him, including Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, and Lance Moore, we can expect more of the same from the New Orleans offense – more than a handful of points every week. Defensively, the Saints are without Will Smith, who is dealing with an injury, but they do have the ability to make some plays and change the course of a game when their offense needs a stop. Going up against a powerhouse offense like the Falcons isn’t the easiest way to start a season for a defense looking to gain confidence, but one snap can make the difference between winning and losing and I feel like, in this type of hostile atmosphere and the game we’re expecting to see, it’ll come down to one or two plays. While the Falcons are getting a little bit disrespected in this spot, as offensively they can compete with anyone and defensively I think they have the edge over the Saints, you can’t argue with the emotion and ambiance that is surely to be present in New Orleans and I think they get a win and the cover for their returning head coach in the season opener.

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