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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Atlanta Falcons still have plenty to play for in playoff hunt

New Orleans Saints have been a tough nut to crack at home

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees
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Sky Sports Action, 6pm Sunday

Last year's Super Bowl finalists Atlanta know that a win in New Orleans followed by victory against Carolina next week will be enough to secure the NFC South title.

But that is easier said than done and it promises to be a titanic struggle at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Falcons gave themselves a chance of reaching the playoffs when they secured a 20-17 victory over the Saints two weeks ago and their only defeat in their last six matches was against NFC North champions Minnesota, so their form is good.

The problem is that they will have to contain an offence, led by dynamic quarterback Drew Brees, who have scored at least 30 points in five of their seven home games, including each of their last four.

The Saints' ability to score points has always been there under coach Sean Payton, but their defence has also stepped up to the plate this season, which means they would be worthy of a place in the playoffs if they can get over the line.

However, this could be a game where they are chased all the way as the Falcons have their season on the line.

The Saints should be mindful that although they comfortably saw off the New York Jets last week, they committed three turnovers that led to their opponents scoring points.

They can't afford to be as generous in this key clash, for which the Falcons have been handed a generous start.

The winning margin in this divisional fixture has been more than six points in just six of the last 18 meetings. With the underdogs having beaten the handicap in seven of the last eight games between them, it would not be a surprise if this monumental battle followed the same pattern.

Atlanta +6
2pts 66-67 188Bet

The lowdown
Venue Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Surface Artificial
Weather Indoors
Vegas handicap Atlanta +5.5
Vegas points line 52.5

Team news
Wide receivers Julio Jones (ankle) and Mohamed Sanu (knee) have been limited in practice this week but should play. Guard Andy Levitre (triceps) is rated questionable.

New Orleans
Safety Kenny Vaccaro (groin) has been placed on injured reserve, as has linebacker AJ Klein. Tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion) and Garrett Griffin (foot) have also been ruled out.

Key stat
The winning margin has been more than six points in just six of the teams' last 18 meetings.

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The winning margin has been more than six points in just six of the teams' last 18 meetings
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