Posted on November 10, 2019, by Travis Pulver

Prior to kick off early Sunday afternoon, the New Orleans Saints were not just expected to beat the Atlanta Falcons. Fan considered the real question to be more how big the margin of victory would be rather than if they would win. But with the offense the Saints have, facing a defense like Atlanta’s– it was not expected to be pretty.

In the end, it wasn’t pretty, but not in the way it was expected to be.

The Falcons struck first with a field goal and touchdown on their first two drives and never looked back. They led by seven at the half, 13-6, and went on to win with ease, 26-9.

New Orleans had entered the game 13.5-point favorites at Caesars but lost by 17, making them the largest favorite to lose all season.

It was an all-around sloppy game for the Saints who allowed six sacks on the day and committed a dozen penalties for 90 yards. They entered the game as one of the least penalized teams in the league and one of the best at protecting the quarterback.

Atlanta entered the game with one of the worst pass rushes in the league, having tallied just seven sacks all season.

After the game, Saints head coach Sean Payton didn’t hold back, via ESPN:

“We didn’t play well enough to win today — really against anybody. Shame on us if we can’t get those corrections made. And that won’t be a problem. … That’s one of those things in this game that creates a little bit of toughness and grit.”  

The Falcons were 1-7 entering the game and the Saints 7-1. Atlanta had one of the worst defenses in the league, especially against the pass—which Drew Brees and the Saints happen to excel at. There was so much confidence in the Saints that they opened as 13-point favorites at most books, but they closed as high as 14-points.  

They closed as 14-point favorites at Bookmaker.eu. Of the bets that they took on the game, 65 percent of the money was on the Saints and 79 percent of the bets despite the massive spread.

Losing Marshawn Lattimore to an early injury didn’t help. Prior to him leaving, Julio Jones did not have a catch. But it wasn’t the Falcons passing game that won the day. Matt Ryan was only 20-35 for 182 yards and two touchdowns (and one interception). It was the surprising performance by the Falcons 30th ranked defense (points allowed per game), and especially their 23rd ranked pass defense.

“The players did a great job, number one, of their communication,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after the game, via the team’s website. “That’s really when you see the complementary football come to life when rush and coverage can be in sync….”

It was the first time since 2005 that the Saints were held to less than ten points at home—that predates the arrival of Drew Brees.

The Saints will look to get back on track next week against the Buccaneers when they head to Tampa Bay. Atlanta will face another challenging opponent with an away game against the Carolina Panthers.

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