Nover’s View: Falcons-Saints Free Sunday Play

On December 18, 2022, in Free Picks, NFL, by Stephen

Falcons plus 4 1/2 at Saints

When it comes to NFL Coach of the Year honors, Sean Payton should get some support. Yes, I know Payton isn’t coaching this year, but look at how much the Saints have fallen apart since he left.

New Orleans is 4-9. The last time the Saints were this bad was the Hurricane Katrina evacuation season of 2005 when they went 3-13. Payton took over the following season.

Dennis Allen, one of those defensive-minded recycled head coaches, replaced Payton and along with multiple injuries has buried the Saints. The dull-witted Allen continues to start 35-year-old, over-the-hill Andy Dalton while failing to adequately use Alvin Kamara, who is enduring a lost season.

The Falcons aren’t much better than the Saints at 5-8. But they still have playoff hope at this stage being one game out of the lead in the NFC South and are much better coached. They should not be underdogs to the Saints by this many points. Atlanta has lost six games by seven or fewer points, including a one-point loss to New Orleans opening week when Jameis Winston was the Saints’ starting quarterback.

The Saints are rudderless under Allen. Smith has turned the formerly soft Falcons into a tough ground-oriented team with an improved defense. The Falcons rank fourth in the NFL in rushing. Cordarrelle Patterson is a dangerous all-purpose back and maybe the most feared kick returner in the league. Tyler Allegeier has emerged coming on to average the second most yards per carry during the last six weeks.

There is a major unknown to this matchup – the NFL debut of Desmond Ridder. I see that as a positive. He can provide a spark and the threat of a deep ball that the Falcons were sorely lacking under Marcus Mariota. Smith’s offense must have an effective deep passer in order to loosen up defenses from stacking the line to stop the run. Opposing safeties must respect that. Ridder can provide that. He’s not the runner Mariota is, but the Falcons have other running backs to do the lifting. Ridder finished 13th in college at Cincinnati last season in completions of more than 20 yards.

”There is an unknown, there’s a risk,” Smith said about starting Ridder. ”But we’ve got confidence in him, or we wouldn’t put him out there.”

Smith made the decision to go with Ridder as his starter even before Mariota announced he would be sidelined the rest of the season with a knee injury. The Falcons have had two weeks to prepare Ridder since they had their bye last week as did the Saints.

I have five premium NFL plays today in addition to this free selection headed by my NFL Total of the Month. I am 67-31-2 long-term on my NFL premium/free play totals, including 21-8-1 on the last 30. If you are interested in my sports service, please email me at, or message me via Twitter.

Best of luck and no bad beats!  


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