Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football
Three key mismatches in Saints-Falcons game
Falcons receiver Roddy White vs. Saints’ secondary
Considering the Falcons have used three different starting quarterbacks this season, it’s a credit to receiver Roddy White that he’s putting up the best numbers of his career. He should improve those figures against a much-maligned Saints secondary.
The third-year pro ranks eighth in the league with 920 receiving yards and is averaging an impressive 14.84 yards per carry. White has broken the 100-yard mark in his last two games, and has a team-high four TDs this season.
The Saints’ pass defense, especially the secondary, is largely responsible for their 5-7 record. New Orleans is surrendering 249.5 yards per game in the air, which ranks 28th in the league. The Saints allowed Bucs quarterback Luke McCown to throw for 313 yards and two TDs in last week’s loss.
Saints running back Reggie Bush vs. Falcons’ rush defense
Saints running back Reggie Bush has a great opportunity to break out of his recent slump against a weak Falcons rush defense.
Atlanta is allowing 121.9 yards per contest on the ground – a major reason why it has lost three games in a row. During that three-game skid, the Falcons have allowed a combined 372 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Bush will be eager to further punish that defense. Though the second-year pro has 581 rushing yards (30th in the league) this season, he has managed an average of just 43.3 yards in his last three games. He should do a lot better than that against Atlanta.
Falcons’ turnovers gained vs. Saints’ turnovers lost
The Saints are one of the league’s worst offenders when it comes to turnovers, with much of the blame being placed on quarterback Drew Brees. The Falcons are well positioned to take advantage of that weakness.
New Orleans has 23 turnovers this season, with 15 occurring from a Brees interception.
Conversely, Atlanta is adept at forcing opponents into mistakes. The Falcons have 22 takeaways in 11 games – 14 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, whose four interceptions rank 12th in the league, could make life particularly difficult.
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What bettors need to know: Saints at Falcons
Bush out for season?
Saints running back Reggie Bush will miss Monday’s tilt with the Falcons.
Bush was hurt in last Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though he practiced Thursday, he was too sore to finish. Bush did not practice Friday and it was confirmed that he tore his posterior cruciate ligament.
“If you just study the history of PCL injuries, I know they vary with each player,” Payton told reporters. “But it is an injury that you come back from,”
It’s been a disappointing sophomore season for the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner. Bush has rushed for a meager 581 yards with four touchdowns and eight fumbles.
“Reggie is a great talent,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees told reporters. “Reggie is one of the best athletes I have ever seen, but that only gets you so far. “You need certain fundamentals and discipline to play this game. But these are learned, not something that just happens immediately.”
Bush, who could miss the remainder of the campaign, will visit orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews to determine if surgery is necessary.
Falcons third-string quarterback Chris Redman will start.
Redman has not started since a 2002 stint with the Baltimore Ravens. He has completed 123 passes in 223 attempts for 1,292 yards in 13 career starts. He also has nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
“It's unbelievable,” the perennial backup told reporters. “I have a chance to be on a pedestal that I never thought I would be on again, to be honest. I want to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Falcons coach Bobby Petrino named Redman the starter to jumpstart an offense that is averaging less than 300 yards and 14 points.
“Chris has a quick release and he's always been an accurate passer,” Petrino told reporters. “He's able to get the ball out of his hands fast, which helped the other day on our timing. He's really tough. He's always been able to stand in there and take a hit.”
Redman was 16-of-24 for 172 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a notable relief appearance last Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
“I did it for one quarter,” Redman told reporters. “Now I've got to show I can do it for four quarters.”
Clinging to hope
Though the playoffs aren’t out of the question, the Saints must win their final four games to ensure playing in January.
“We're not out of this thing yet,” Bush told reporters. “It's hard to believe, there are so many things that can happen. All we can do is control our part, try to win out and take it from there.”
Earlier this season, New Orleans established it’s knack for bouncing back. The Saints started 0-4 and then turned things around with four straight victories, including an Oct. 21 triumph over the Falcons at the Superdome.
“When you start the way we did, losing four games right out of the gate, your team can go one of two ways,” Payton told reporters. “I'm proud of the way we bounced back.”
The Saints’ final four opponents all have losing records, including the Falcons.
The Saints have won three consecutive tilts in Georgia. They have also covered the spread in six of their last eight meetings with Atlanta dating to 2004.
New Orleans is also 3-3 ATS outside the Big Easy, while the Falcons are 2-4 ATS at the Georgia Dome.
Interestingly, 19 of the last 35 regular-season tilts between the Falcons and Saints have been decided by seven points or less.
Re: Monday Night Football
Saints get Monday Night spotlight to disprove naysayers
- Forrest Gump might opine that the Saints are like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get. One week after a rout of Carolina, the Saints lost at home to Tampa. Before that, they lost to the lowly Rams and Texans after routing Seattle. Of note, the Falcons rank second last in overall offense.
The Saints lost to Tampa Bay 27-23 as a 5.5-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (41.5).
Drew Brees completed 17-of-23 passes for 179 yards with two touchdowns for New Orleans and Reggie Bush rushed for 64 yards on 13 carries.
The Falcons lost to St. Louis 28-16 as a 3-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (40).
Chris Redman completed 16-of-24 passes for 172 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Atlanta, while Roddy White caught 10 passes for 146 yards with a touchdown.
Atlanta has lost 3 straight games.
New Orleans: 5-7 SU, 4-8 ATS
Atlanta: 3-9 SU, 6-6 ATS
New Orleans most recently:
When playing in December are 3-7
When playing on turf are 4-6
After being outgained are 7-3
When playing within the division are 5-5
Atlanta most recently:
When playing in December are 3-7
When playing on turf are 2-8
After outgaining opponent are 3-7
When playing within the division are 4-6
A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of New Orleans's last 8 games when playing Atlanta
New Orleans is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Atlanta
New Orleans is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing Atlanta
New Orleans is 10-5 ATS in its last 15 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Atlanta's last 8 games when playing New Orleans
The total has gone UNDER in 15 of Atlanta's last 21 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Atlanta's last 6 games at home
Atlanta is 8-4 SU in its last 12 games when playing at home against New Orleans
New Orleans home to Arizona, Sunday, December 16
Atlanta at Tampa Bay, Sunday, December 16
Re: Monday Night Football
Saints at Falcons
The only reason the Falcons are playing their third game in prime time this season is because Michael Vick – once considered one of, if not the most dynamic player in the NFL – was supposed to be the starting quarterback. Instead, in an ironic twist of fate, Vick will be sentenced in federal court for dogfighting Monday.
Meanwhile, his former teammates, who are mired in a 3-9 campaign, will play host to the Saints in an NFC South showdown that has no business being broadcast to a national audience.
Most sports books are listing New Orleans (5-7 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) as a 3 ½-point favorite with the total in the 42-43 range. Gamblers can back the Falcons to win outright for a plus 160 payout (risk $100 to win $160).
Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Saints at 5 ½, but the number was adjusted when Reggie Bush was ruled “out” for this game. He might miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his knee.
Sean Payton’s team squandered a golden opportunity to get back into the NFC South race when it lost a 27-23 decision to Tampa Bay as a 5 ½-point home ‘chalk.’ With a 23-20 lead with less than four minutes remaining, Payton inexplicably called a reverse that was mishandled by Devery Henderson on a poor pitch from Bush.
After the Bucs recovered the fumble, they drove into the red zone in the final minute. Then with 17 seconds left, back-up QB Luke McCown found Jerramy Stevens for a four-yard scoring strike.
The loss all but ended New Orleans’ chances of defending its NFC South crown from 2006. However, the Saints will be just one game out of the sixth and final NFC wild-card spot if they can beat the Falcons for the second time this year.
When these division rivals met in the Crescent City on Oct. 21, Atlanta was seemingly in control for most of the game, only to blow a late lead and lose 22-16. On the bright side for Falcons backers, they did take the cash as nine-point underdogs.
With Deuce McAllister and now Bush both out, gamblers can expect to see Drew Brees dropping back to pass a lot Monday. After a brutal start to 2007, Brees has been outstanding in recent weeks. For the year, he has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,176 yards, with a 20/15 touchdown-interception ratio.
Although Bush’s numbers -- 73 receptions for 417 yards, 3.7 yards per carry, six touchdowns (4 rushing, 2 receiving) -- aren’t overly impressive, his presence alone will be sorely missed. Second-year wide receiver Marques Colston becomes to go-to guy for Brees. Colston has 70 catches for 886 and six TDs.
Atlanta (3-9 SU, 6-6 ATS) will be going with its third different starting QB this year. Chris Redman, who was out of the NFL and selling insurance this time last year, will get the starting nod after nearly rallying the Falcons to a win at St. Louis last week.
Redman connected on 16-of-24 passes for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as Atlanta cut the deficit to 21-16 midway through the fourth quarter. However, the Falcons couldn’t complete the comeback, eventually dropping a 28-16 decision as three-point underdogs.
It is unclear whether Joey Harrington or Byron Leftwich will be the No. 2 QB this week. Leftwich is “questionable” with a bruised tailbone.
The Atlanta offensive line is riddled with injuries. The team’s top three OTs are on injured reserve, as is Kyan Forney, perhaps the team’s best o-lineman.
This will be Atlanta sixth home underdog situation this season. The Falcons are 1-4 both SU and ATS in the five previous spots as home ‘dogs.
The ‘under’ is 6-2 in the last eight head-to-head meetings between these teams.
ESPN will provide television coverage at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--The ‘over’ has hit in three straight games for the Falcons, who are 0-3 both SU and ATS in those three outings.
--Atlanta is 2-4 ATS at home, while the Saints are 3-3 versus the number on the road.
--Atlanta is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 home games.
--The Saints are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games.
--More nuggets on the way as the rest of the Week 14 action is completed….
Re: Monday Night Football
New Orleans (5-7 SU, 4-8 ATS) at Atlanta (3-9 SU, 6-6 ATS)
The Saints look to keep their faint playoff hopes alive when they visit the Georgia Dome to take on the Falcons in a nationally televised NFC South matchup.
New Orleans opened the season 0-4 SU and ATS, followed it with a four-game winning streak (3-1 ATS) but has since dropped three of four (1-3 ATS). Last week, the Saints lost a tough one to divisional-rival Tampa Bay, falling 27-23 as 5½-point home favorites.
Atlanta has lost three in a row SU and ATS, including two at home. The Falcons went to St. Louis last week and fell 28-16 as three-point underdogs. Their problem all season has been on the offensive side of the field, where they only muster 14.2 points and 299.8 total yards per game.
These two teams met back on Oct. 21 when New Orleans scored a 22-16 win at home, but failed to cash as a nine-point chalk. It was the third straight win for the Saints over the Falcons, including last season’s 31-13 win in Atlanta when they easily covered as three-point underdogs. New Orleans is 6-3 ATS in the last nine against the Falcons.
The underdog is 6-2 in the last eight series clashes, including 3-0 in the last three.
New Orleans is just 4-11 ATS in its last 15 overall, 2-6 ATS against teams with a losing record and 6-9 ATS on the road in Monday Night Football contests.
The Falcons are just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games in front of the home fans. They’re also just 6-11 ATS at home on Monday Night Football (8-9 SU).
The under is 6-2 the last eight times these two have met and 8-2 in the Falcons’ last 10 against NFC South opponents. Conversely, the over is 7-1 in Atlanta’s last eight as a home underdog and 8-3 in the Saints’ last 11 against NFC competition.
ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE
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Game Preview for Saints vs Falcons
(Sports Network) - Given their disappointing 5-7 record, the New Orleans Saints are unlikely to deliver on the promise that followed them into the 2007 season.
Though on Monday night, when Sean Payton's team heads to the Georgia Dome to face the Atlanta Falcons, the Saints will simply be looking to deliver a win.
New Orleans, a consensus preseason favorite to win the NFC South this season, effectively surrendered that chance in a 27-23 home loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday. The Saints owned a 23-20 lead and had the football in the waning moments, but a disastrous trick-play pitch from running back Reggie Bush to wide receiver Devery Henderson was botched and picked up by Buccaneers defensive end Jovan Haye to set up the winning score for Tampa.
The defeat resigned Payton and company to attempting to navigate a crowded Wild Card race, one that includes a glut of five- , six- and (by Monday, likely) seven-win teams scrapping for the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC.
A win on Monday would improve the Saints' chances in advance of a three-game concluding stretch against the Cardinals and Eagles at home, and the Bears at Soldier Field.
The Falcons, meanwhile, would be thankful at this stage to even be part of the Wild Card discussion.
Since raising hopes briefly with a two-game win streak that lifted Atlanta to 3-6, Bobby Petrino's club has lost three in a row, including a 28-16 setback at St. Louis last week. The Falcons rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit in that game to pull within 21-16, with former third-string quarterback Chris Redman leading the charge, but Atlanta was unable to complete the comeback.
Still, Redman (16-of-24 passing, 172 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) played well enough in relief to earn himself his first NFL start since Oct. 20, 2002, when he opened a 17-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
The Louisville product was 3-3 in six starts for Baltimore that year, before a back injury ended his season. Redman would throw just 13 more passes as a Raven, all in 2003, and apart from a stint in training camp with the Tennessee Titans in 2005, was out of football thereafter until being signed as a backup in Atlanta this past offseason.
Redman will become the third quarterback to start a game for the Falcons this season, joining Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich.
Atlanta leads the all-time regular season series with New Orleans, 43-33, but has lost three straight against the Saints including a 22-16 road loss in Week 7. New Orleans swept last year's home-and-home, including a 31-13 victory at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won both meetings in 2005.
In addition to the regular season series, the teams have faced off once in the postseason, with Atlanta winning a 27-20 road affair in a 1991 NFC First-Round Playoff.
Payton is 3-0 against the Falcons as a head coach, while Atlanta's Petrino is 0-1 versus both Payton and the Saints.
WHEN THE SAINTS HAVE THE BALL
Quarterback Drew Brees (3176 passing yards, 20 TD, 15 INT) has made the Saints offense go for most of the 2007 season, but comes off a 179-yard passing day that marked his lowest passing total of the season to date. Brees was 17-of-23 passing against Tampa Bay, hooking up for touchdowns with both Henderson (18 receptions, 3 TD) and Terrance Copper (8 receptions, 2 TD), but was also sacked three times after being brought down a league-low eight in his first 11 games. Brees will look to get more in tune this week with No. 1 wideout Marques Colston (70 receptions, 6 TD), who was limited to two catches for 39 yards last Sunday but is 114 yards shy of his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. A Saints rushing game that has sputtered for most of the year managed just 84 yards on the ground against Tampa, with Bush (581 rushing yards, 73 receptions, 6 TD) again being denied his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. Bush continues to lead NFL running backs in receptions. The Saints rank 10th in NFL total offense (343.9 yards per game) as Week 14 begins.
Brees will be going up against an Atlanta defense that ranks 18th in the league in defense (332.7 yards per game), including a respectable 13th against the pass (210.8 yards per game), and ranks near the bottom of the NFL with just 19 sacks on the year. The Falcons secondary has become the team's strength, with cornerback DeAngelo Hall (50 tackles, 4 INT) putting together another Pro Bowl-worthy season and safeties Chris Crocker (37 tackles, 2 INT, 1 sack) and Lawyer Milloy (62 tackles, 2 INT) both notching interceptions of Rams quarterback Gus Frerotte last Sunday. In the pass rush, the team will be looking for a greater contribution over the final four games from end and first-round draft pick Jamaal Anderson (24 tackles), who has had a quiet rookie season. Atlanta has not played especially well against the run this year, ranking 24th in the league in that category (121.9 yards per game) and helping St. Louis running back Steven Jackson break open last week's game with a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Linebackers Michael Boley (96 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INT) and Keith Brooking (75 tackles, 2 sacks) are 1-2 on the team in tackles.
WHEN THE FALCONS HAVE THE BALL
Redman will attempt to breathe life into a Falcons team that has scored an NFL-low 16 touchdowns on the season and ranks 26th in the league overall (299.2 yards per game). The club's one offensive bright spot this year has actually been in the passing game, where wideout Roddy White (62 receptions, 4 TD) needs 80 yards to post his first career 1,000-yard season and become the first Falcon to reach the plateau since Terance Mathis in 1999. White comes off a huge day in St. Louis, where the former first-round pick posted career- highs with 10 catches for 146 yards and also scored his fourth touchdown of the year. White notched eight grabs for 110 yards and a score against New Orleans in Week 7. Tight end Alge Crumpler (34 receptions, 2 TD) also figures to be among Redman's top targets. The running game has sputtered for most of the season due in large part to a makeshift offensive line, with neither Warrick Dunn (600 rushing yards, 3 TD, 32 receptions) nor Jerious Norwood (442 rushing yards, 1 TD, 23 receptions) earning consistent yards. Petrino hinted this week that Norwood, who rushed for a season-high 94 yards on just eight carries last week, could assume a larger role in the offense over the team's final four games.
The Saints will likely be pleased to see the struggling Atlanta attack one week after allowing 466 yards to Tampa Bay and its backup quarterback, Luke McCown. McCown threw for 313 yards in his first NFL start since 2004, and New Orleans had particular trouble handling wideout Joey Galloway, who exploded for seven catches and 159 yards. The lack of defensive proficiency was nothing new for the Saints, who are currently 26th in the league in total defense (351.7 yards per game) and have experienced problems against both the pass and run at times during 2007. A front seven led by linebackers Scott Fujita (75 tackles, 1 sack), Scott Shanle (48 tackles) and nose tackle Hollis Thomas (40 tackles, 2 sacks) will have to bounce back after allowing a 100-yard game to the Buccaneers' Earnest Graham last week. The secondary, which has had its hiccups this year but got a big play in the form of a 53-yard interception return by cornerback Mike McKenzie (46 tackles, 3 INT) last Sunday, will need help from a hot-and-cold pass rush. The Saints sacked McCown three times last week, including one by top pass rusher Will Smith (45 tackles, 5 sacks) that went for a fourth quarter safety.
Since suffering through a poor first month, both Brees and Colston have picked up both their actual and fantasy production to the point that each is a must- start. Despite his rushing struggles, Bush is a pretty good No. 2 or flex option because of his receiving abilities. Stay away from a kicking game that has recorded a league-low eight field goals on the year, and a defense that rarely makes big plays.
On the Atlanta side, the receiver White has become a viable fantasy option, and Crumpler will still give you something from the tight end position. It's hard to know what to expect from either Redman or Norwood, but against a weak New Orleans defense, it might be worth taking a flier on one or both if you're desperate.
It's difficult not to root for a guy like Redman, who has waited five long years for a chance to start again in the NFL and has sat patiently this season while Harrington and Leftwich have bumbled their way around the field. It's unfortunate, then, that the former Louisville star lacks the supporting cast to put together a consistent outing against a Saints team that boasts a decided talent advantage. New Orleans might not have the goods to make a late run toward the playoffs, but with Brees, Bush, and Colston in tow, the team has enough to outlast the Falcons in a game that represents a must-win for the Saints.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saints 20, Falcons 13
Re: Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football Preview
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will be looking to get closer to the .500 mark when they head to the Georgia Dome for their Monday night matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.
Brees and company saw their playoff chances take a hit last week when they fell 27-23 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home. That loss dropped New Orleans to 5-7 straight-up on the year, and it put them three games behind the Buccaneers in the NFC South.
The Saints couldn't get much going on offense against Tampa Bay. Brees went 17-of-23 for just 179 yards passing, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Terrance Copper and Devery Henderson each had TD catches in the loss, while Mike McKenzie ran back an INT for a score. Marques Colston had two catches for 39 yards on the day.
Reggie Bush ran for 64 yards on 13 carries against Tampa Bay, but he won't be able to duplicate those modest numbers against Atlanta on Monday night. Bush has been declared OUT for the primetime matchup, and his knee injury could keep him out of action for the rest of the season. We should know more about his status early this week.
The Falcons have now lost three games in a row, as they fell 28-16 on the road to the Rams on the weekend. That puts Atlanta at just 3-9 on the season, and they're in last place in the NFC South. The Falcons are also 1-3 against divisional opponents this year.
Joey Harrington went just 17-of-34 for 184 yards passing against St. Louis, with no touchdowns and one interception. Chris Redman fared better during his time on the field, completing 16-of-24 pass attempts for 172 yards, with two TDs and one INT. Redman will get the nod as Atlanta's starter when they host New Orleans on Monday.
Roddy White and Michael Jenkins had the TD catches for Atlanta in Week 13, and both of them came in the fourth quarter. White led the receiving corps with 10 catches for 146 yards and the score, while Alge Crumpler had seven catches for 65 yards. Warrick Dunn was ineffective on the ground, rushing for only 17 yards on 10 carries. Jerious Norwood, though, ran for 94 yards on eight attempts, for an average of 11.8 per carry.
The Falcons are pegged as the home underdog on Monday night, as New Orleans is favored by 3.5 points on the road. On the season the Saints are 4-8 against-the-spread, while the Falcons are a bit better at 6-6 ATS. New Orleans is also 3-3 ATS on the road and 3-6 ATS as the favorite. Atlanta is 2-4 ATS at home and 5-6 ATS as the underdog.
Monday night's total has been pegged at 42.5 points. The Saints and Falcons are a combined 11-13 on the OVER/UNDER this season, with New Orleans square at 6-6.
The Saints got past the Falcons 22-16 earlier this season at the Superdome. New Orleans had been favored by 7.5 points at home in that contest, and failed to cover the spread. The combined score fell UNDER the posted total of 42.5 points. Brees threw for 219 yards and two scores in the win, while Harrington and Byron Leftwich split the QB duties for Atlanta. White had a big day for the Falcons with eight catches for 110 yards.
New Orleans also went 2-0 versus Atlanta back in 2006, and they managed to pick up ATS victories in both of those contests as well. The Falcons last beat their division rival back on December 12, 2005, when they covered a 10-point spread in a 36-17 victory.
Here are the official injury reports for both New Orleans and Atlanta for Monday . . .
New Orleans Injuries
Reggie Bush RB Out Week 14 (knee)
Pierre Thomas RB Probable Week 14 (kidney)
Antoine Harris CB Doubtful Week 14 (knee)
Tyson Clabo T Questionable Week 14 (knee/foot)
The Falcons will play another divisional game in Week 15, as they'll head to Tampa Bay to take on the first-place Bucs. The Saints will go back home to next face the Cardinals.