There are plenty of convoluted playoff scenarios heading into Week 18 but that certainly is not the case with the New Orleans Saints.
If New Orleans wins and the San Francisco 49ers lose to the Los Angeles Rams, the Saints are in the playoffs. Currently, both Saints and Rams are favored to win.
What a ride it has been for New Orleans as the Saints opened the season by crushing a Green Bay team that has already clinched the top seed in the NFC playoffs and swept the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers but are also just 4-4 against teams already eliminated from playoff contention.
The Saints put themselves in this difficult predicament by going 1-3 in games decided by six points or less. The Falcons are 7-2 in one-score games but will finish with a losing record for the fourth season in a row. That hasn’t happened since Atlanta had eight consecutive losing seasons from 1983-90.
Despite what the odds might say in the Saints-Falcons and 49ers-Rams games, New Orleans (+17500) has the longest odds to win the Super Bowl among the eight NFC teams which could earn playoff spots. San Francisco (+4000) is sixth among the eight NFC teams.
- Game: New Orleans (8-8) at Atlanta (7-9)
- Location: Mercedez-Benz Stadium
- Day/Time: Sunday, January 9, 4:25 p.m. ET
- Television: FOX
Saints vs Falcons Betting Lines
|New Orleans||-4 (-115)||-210||40 (-110o)|
|Atlanta||+4 (-105)||+175||40 (-110u)|
Saints vs Falcons Head-to-Head
The New Orleans Saints were listed by the NHL betting lines as 6½-point favorites against the visiting Atlanta Falcons when the division rivals played on November 7.
Matt Ryan threw for one touchdown and ran for another as Atlanta led by 14 points at halftime. The Saints trailed by 18 points with 10:39 left to play but touchdowns by Marquez Callaway, Alvin Kamara and Kenny Stills in a span of less than seven minutes gave the Saints a one-point lead.
However, Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo booted the game-winning 29-yard field goal as time expired to give the Falcons the 27-25 win and snap a three-game losing streak to New Orleans.
The previous five games in the series all went over the total but this game went over the 43-point total on the TD catch by Stills with 1:01 left to play.
New Orleans Saints
Next game: possible NFC playoff game.
The New Orleans Saints were listed by the NFL picks against the spread as seven-point favorites against the visiting Carolina Panthers.
Four Brett Maher field goals gave New Orleans a two-point lead late in the third quarter. Alvin Kamara scored New Orleans’ only touchdown of the game midway through the fourth quarter as New Orleans pulled out the 18-10 win by recording seven sacks and holding Carolina to 178 yards of total offense.
It was the third win in the last four meetings for New Orleans with the Saints covering in each of those victories.
The game went well under the 37-point total and was the sixth straight game between the teams to finish under the total.
Offensive linemen Terron Armstead (knee) and Erik McCoy (illness), running back Mark Ingram (knee), receiver Tre’quan Smith (chest), defensive backs Marcus Williams (illness) and P.J Williams (ankle) are questionable.
Defensive lineman Albert Huggins, tight end Nick Vannett are on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Defensive lineman Jalen Dalton (tricep), offensive linemen Andrus Peat (pectoral) and Landon Young (foot), kicker Wil Lutz (groin) are on injured reserve.
Offensive tackle Ryan Ramcyzk, who missed the last seven games, was recently activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list and practiced on Wednesday.
Key development for Saints: RT Ryan Ramczyk off the COVID list and participated in practice on a limited basis after missing seven games with a knee injury. Unfortunately, LT Terron Armstead and DE Marcus Davenport were among those who didn’t practice. pic.twitter.com/lCrgE2cLeg
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) January 5, 2022
Next game: Season is over.
The visiting Atlanta Falcons were listed by the Las Vegas odds as 14-point underdogs against the Buffalo Bills.
Atlanta needed to win to remain in playoff contention and a Mike Davis touchdown run and pair of Younghoe Koo field goals in the second half gave the Falcons a one-point lead.
Devin Singletary had touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters as the Bills rallied to the 29-15 win to secure a spot in the playoffs while eliminating the Falcons. It was the seventh straight game when Atlanta alternated a win followed by a loss and it was 2-4-1 against the spread during that stretch.
The game fell just under the 46-point total and was the seventh time in the last eight games that a game involving the Falcons finished under the total.
Tight end Kyle Pitts (hamstring), defensive back Fabian Moreau (ribs), running back Qadree Ellison (quadricep) and receiver Tajae Sharpe (foot) are questionable.
UPDATED: #Falcons injury report: TE Kyle Pitts (hamstring) and RB Qadree Ollison (quad) held out of practice. WR Frank Darby (shoulder) was limited. CB Fabian Moreau (ribs) fully participated. https://t.co/GzWOjyBaDF
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) January 5, 2022
Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, defensive back Jaylinn Hawkins and offensive lineman Jason Spriggs are on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbe (knee), defensive back Erick Harris (pectoral) are on injured reserve.
Betting on the Game
Atlanta linebacker Foye Oluokun, a sixth-round pick out of Yale in 2018, currently leads the NFL with 179 tackles. He could be the first player drafted after the fourth round to lead the NFL in tackles since former undrafted free agent Vontaze Burfict led the league with 171 tackles in 2013. The last NFL player with at least 180 tackles in a season was Ray Lewis in 1997.
Only the Miami Dolphins Houston Texans have rushed for fewer yards this season than Atlanta while the Chicago Bears are the only team with fewer passing yards than the New Orleans Saints.
New Orleans has covered in six of its last eight games against Atlanta and is 5-1 against the spread in its last six games at Atlanta.
The total has gone under in the Saints’ last six games and in seven of the Falcons’ last eight games. Even with a low total of 40, this game could also be headed that way at least that is the way many people who bet online have been going early in the week.