Editor's note: this article was written – and published – prior to New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton announcing that Taysom Hill would be the starting QB this Sunday, as opposed to Jameis Winston.
Jameis Winston will lead the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons in an interesting NFL betting matchup, as Drew Brees is dealing with fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.
The Falcons are winners of three of their last four but are out of contention at 3-7 on the year. Winston will make his first start as a Saint after leading the league in interceptions (30) last year with Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
NFL odds had the Saints as seven-point favorites on the look-ahead, but with the news of Brees, books opened the Saints at -5. The total sits at 51.
Here are our NFL free picks and predictions for Falcons vs. Saints on Sunday, November 22 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Betting Preview
Sunday’s game will be played indoors at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions of other Week 11 games with our NFL weather info.
Falcons: Dante Fowler Jr. DE (Out), John Wetzel G (Out).
Saints: Drew Brees QB (Out), Josh Hill TE (Out), Kwon Alexander LB (Out), Chase Hansen LB (Out), Marshon Lattimore CB (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting Trend to Know
Atlanta is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games as a road underdog. Find more NFL betting trends for Falcons vs. Saints.
Against the Spread (ATS) Pick
The Saints will be going from a QB that takes what defenses give him and doesn’t force the ball to maybe the biggest gunslinger since Brett Favre. Drew Brees has played into his 40’s by looking underneath and not turning over the ball while Sunday's starter, Jameis Winston, is the polar opposite.
In his 14 dropbacks last week in relief duty, Winston took two sacks in the red zone and threw a should-be interception that was dropped by the defender. We’re having a difficult time backing Winston, who has Daniel Jones-like tendencies with turning the ball over. With Brees, the Saints went 1-3 ATS as a favorite of five points or more.
Since firing head coach Dan Quinn, the Falcons are 3-1 SU and probably should be 4-0. They haven’t played a team with a winning record since Week 4 but are still 3-1 ATS as underdogs and had an extra week to prepare against a familiar opponent. Last November, Matt Ryan and Atlanta were 14-point underdogs at New Orleans and they walked away with a 29-6 straight-up win.
PREDICTION: Atlanta +5 (-110)
The New Orleans defense has looked exceptionally good after coming out of the bye two weeks ago. Since then, they have allowed just one TD over their last eight quarters and held the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers offenses to 4.3 yards per play.
The Falcons could be without star wideout Calvin Ridley as the WR is questionable with a foot injury. Ridley’s absence would allow Pro Football Focus' No. 9-ranked safety Marcus Williams to help with protection on Julio Jones, and allow the Saints’ stout run D to stymie Atlanta’s Bottom-15 rush offense.
Winston and his interceptions are always a worry when taking an Over, but the former first-overall pick also looked awful in the red zone last week. In his six dropbacks inside the San Fran 20, Winston completed just one pass (behind the line of scrimmage) while airmailing two balls, running for three yards and taking two sacks.
The Saints started the year at an unsustainable 7-0 O/U but have hit the Under in the two most recent games, while the Birds are 2-4 O/U in their last six. The Under has also hit in three straight head-to-head matchups and is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
PREDICTION: Under 51 (-110)
Highest Scoring Half Pick
The Saints and Falcons both rate inside the Top 10 in first-half points per game. The Saints pace the league at 18.7 points per the first 30 while the Falcons sit seventh at 15.2 points per first half.
Looking at their offensive outputs in the second half shows the Falcons manage just 11.8 points per second half (10.3 over their last three) and the Saints also lagging behind their first-half production at 10.8 points per second half.
The Saints have seen just 23 total points scored in the second halves of their two games since the bye, compared to 58 total points in the first halves.
It’s not often you see the first half as the pricier highest-scoring half (-115 compared to -110 for the second half) but you have to trust the books.
PREDICTION: Highest-scoring half - first half (-115)
Falcons vs Saints Betting Card
- Atlanta +5 (-110)
- Under 51 (-110)
- Highest-scoring half - first half (-115)
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