New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons Free Pick 9/8/13

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons Free Pick 9/8/13
2013-09-08 12:00:00 EDT

The New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons face-off on Sunday in the Big Easy as the start their 2013 NFL seasons with a NFC South rivalry game.

The New Orleans Saints missed the playoffs last season after an offseason of turmoil, but it’s back to business this season and the Saints have their sites set high. There hasn’t been anything wrong with the Saints offense and Drew Brees is racking up Hall of Fame numbers. The Saints are deep in the backfield with Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Darren Sproles, who can do It all. Marques Colston missed most of the preseason, but should be fine and Jimmy Graham is poised for another monster year. As good as the New Orleans offense was last season,  the defense was equally as bad. The Saints are running a 3-4 defense this year, but their pass rush took a serious blow when Will Smith went down for the year. Junior Galette tries to fill the void left by Smith, while Jonathan Vilma, Martez Wilson, and Curtis Lofton make a nice group of linebackers. Malcolm Jenkins is at safety with Roman Harper at the other safety. With the offense the Saints have, if the defense can move up to a reasonable spot, the Saints have a chance to go far.

The Atlanta Falcons have been knocking at the door of greatness for several years, but they can’t seem to get over the hump from being a very good team to being a great team. Matt Ryan is a winner and at home he is tough to beat in the regular season, but when it comes to the postseason the Falcons turn into mortals. Steven Jackson takes over in the backfield and we will see how much he has left in the tank, but Jacquizz Rodgers should play plenty. Roddy White has missed most of the preseason but he should be good to go and Julio Jones appears to have taken his game to the next level, while Tony Gonzalez returns for one more chance at a Super Bowl ring. Osi Umenyiora was brought in for a championship attitude and of course a pass rush, Sean Weatherspoon’s game just seems to continually be on the rise, and Desmond Trufant and Asante Samuels will be counted on to cover in the secondary. We are going to find out if the Falcons have improved enough to move up the pecking order in the NFC or if it is just another season of the same things we have seen.

New Orleans is 16-5 against the spread in their last 21 home games, 7-3 against the spread against the NFC South, and 4-1 against the spread in their last five games against the Falcons. Atlanta is 5-2-1 against the spread in their last eight home games, 1-4-1 against the spread against the NFL South, and 9-4 against the spread in their last 13 openers. The underdog in 6-2 against the spread in the last eight meetings of these two.

I can’t imagine there will be too many tougher buildings on opening Sunday in the NFL, with their hero walking the sidelines and their hated rival on the opposite end of the field and while I expect both teams to leave it all on the field, I give the Saints the nod to cover at home.

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Mitch Wilson's Free Pick:
New Orleans Saints -3
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Mitch Wilson

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