When they met in Week 3, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints both were sitting at 1-1 and in need of a win to propel them in the right direction. The Saints eked out a 43-37 overtime victory and haven’t stopped since, as they aim for a 10th consecutive victory when they host the Falcons on Thursday night.
The Saints ran their winning streak to nine games with a 48-7 romp over Philadelphia last week, completing a difficult stretch of their schedule in impressive fashion. New Orleans has scored at least 45 points and rolled up 487 or more yards in three straight games, and the defense has forced eight turnovers in the last four contests. The loss to the Saints in Week 3 began a three-game skid for the Falcons. They then won three straight, including a 24-point triumph at Washington, but back-to-back losses have put Atlanta’s playoff hopes in peril.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Saints -13. O/U: 60
ABOUT THE FALCONS (4-6): The first meeting with the Saints encapsulates Atlanta’s entire season - the team has one of the league’s top offenses and one of its worst defenses. Although the offense ranks sixth in total yards and ninth in the scoring, the ground game has been almost non-existent, so the Falcons have relied on Matt Ryan (3,306 yards, 22 touchdowns, four interceptions) and the passing attack. Ironically, the defense turned in its best effort since Week 1 last time out, holding Dallas to 323 total yards, but the offense fell flat in a 22-19 loss.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (9-1): New Orleans possesses the league’s top scoring offense and one of its most balanced, as complementary running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have given the team a ground attack to go along with the prolific Drew Brees. The superstar quarterback has been especially good in five home games, completing 78.9 percent of his passes for 1,754 yards with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Saints’ defensive stats are somewhat skewed by their opponents often playing catch-up, but they’ve been tough against the run while giving up substantial passing yardage, including a season-high 391 yards at Atlanta.
1. Brees threw four touchdown passes without an interception last week, his NFL-record 23rd such game - one more than Tom Brady.
2. Atlanta WR Julio Jones has caught a touchdown pass in three straight games after being kept out of the end zone in the first seven contests.
3. New Orleans WR Michael Thomas has recorded at least 10 receptions and 115 yards in three of his last four games against Atlanta.