The Atlanta Falcons take on the New Orleans Saints in a Week 15 NFL matchup.
Both teams are well rested after a few weeks off.
Here’s everything you need from a betting perspective on the Falcons-Saints game, from point spread, money line, Over/Under total and expert pick (odds via FOX Beth):
NFL Week 15: What should you bet on this weekend’s Falcons vs. Saints?
See who Sammy P likes in this matchup!
RELATED: Week 15 lines
Falcons at saints (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX)
Distribution of points: saints -3.5 (Saints favored to win by more than 3.5 points, otherwise Falcons cover)
Moneyline: Saints -213 favorites to win (bet $10 to win $14.69 total); Falcons +160 underdogs to win (bet $10 to win $26 total)
Total Over/Under Score: 42.5 points scored by the two teams together
New Orleans Saints
Insights from the FOX Sports Gambling Expert Warren Sharp:
The Falcons don’t throw the ball often or short. When they pitch, they tend to pitch deep.
No team threw a lower pass rate between 1-5 yards than the Falcons (20%).
And they also ranked 29th in percentage of throws that went 1-9 yards (38%).
But they ranked first in percentage of throws that were 20+ yards (18%) and first in percentage of throws that were 10+ (43%).
That’s right, they were the only team in the NFL to throw 20+ yards down the field almost as often (18%) as they threw 1-5 yards (20%).
And they were one of three teams that threw more than 10 yards down the field more often (43%) than between 1 and 9 yards (38%).
But the problem with throwing deep was that Mariota was terrible at it. In fact, he was basically the worst QB in the NFL when he was doing it.
Of the 40 NFL QBs with at least 100 attempts this season when passing more than 20 yards downfield, Mariota ranked:
- 40th in accuracy
- 39th in completion percentage
- 38th in yards per attempt
- 35th in success rate
- 34th in EPA/att
In other words, he was one of the worst QBs in the NFL.
Enter Desmond Ridder.
Atlanta won’t need Ridder to do too much. After all, Atlanta ranks 32nd in early passing percentage in neutral situations. So this isn’t a case where Ridder is throwing the ball a lot.
But Atlanta doesn’t need to throw the ball much to score points.
On the season, Atlanta scored the 15th most points per game, 17th most touchdowns per game, had the fourth fewest three-and-outs per game and ranked ninth in red zone efficiency.
So it shouldn’t be considered a bad offense that didn’t score because it didn’t pass the ball. In fact, they rank as the 12th best offense overall and were above average in points.
It’s actually the perfect offense to insert a rookie quarterback, especially after a bye and especially late in the season.
So if Marcus Mariota was supposedly the best QB, what does Desmond Ridder bring to the table?
While the sample size is very small, here’s what Ridder did throwing 20+ yards to guys who weren’t going to make the team in the preseason against Mariota.
- Rider: +0.95 EPA/att, 44% hit, 21.0 YPA, 67% accuracy rate
- Mariota: -0.13 EPA/att, 23% hit, 7.2 YPA, 49% accuracy rate
For Ridder, those passes he threw were mostly to third strings and cut players, such as Frank Darby, Jared Bernhardt, Cameron Batson, Parker Hesse, John Raine, Feleipe Franks and Damiere Byrd.
During the second half of the season, the Saints’ defense improved enough to rank average in pressure rate after being one of the worst teams in the NFL. And their run defense has also improved to rank league average in EPA/rush and opponent yards before contact per run.
But with a bye week to prepare for, I expect this offense to be creative enough to see success against the Saints defense.
On the other side of the ball, I expect big things from this Saints offense.
While that sounds like an oxymoron, the reality is no offense in the NFL, which played a tougher schedule for defenses in the second half of the season than the Saints. They played the following:
Each of these teams are above average, most are top 10 defenses.
Meanwhile, the Falcons’ defense has done nothing since Week 8 but run back-to-back offenses.
The Saints aren’t a good offense, but finally playing the No. 30 defense, they’ll look competent. And when the Saints have faced bottom-10 defenses, they’ve averaged over 28 PPG. Atlanta has allowed opponents to score on 51 percent of their drives on the road this season, the highest rate in the league.
I would look towards the Over but wait to see if you can take 42.5 if this bet goes down.
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