The New Orleans Saints kick off their 2022 campaign against the hated Atlanta Falcons. It's a chance for the Saints to start 1-0 and, potentially even sweeter, force the Falcons to start 0-1.
Last year, the Saints and Falcons each got a win in the series with the Falcons beating NOLA in their house midway through the season and New Orleans taking down the dirty birds in Atlanta in the final game of the season.
While, on paper, the Saints should be the better team, the old expression of "Throw out the records when those two teams meet up" absolutely applies in this rivalry. Not only that but Week 1 is a weird time where an inferior team like the Falcons can take down the Saints.
Both teams are entering new eras, so to speak. The Saints are in the first year of the post-Sean Payton era after he surprisingly announced he'd be stepping away from coaching. Dennis Allen was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach and it'll be the first time he's coached a team since his failed stint with the Raiders from 2012-2014.
As for the Falcons, they traded Matt Ryan to the Colts in the offseason and now it'll be up to Marcus Mariota to quarterback the offense. Atlanta also drafted Desmond Ridder in the third round so if Mariota doesn't get the job done, it's not crazy to think that Ridder could take over at some point.
With all of this in mind, who are the experts picking to win the ball game on Sunday?
- John Breech, CBS Sports: Saints 24, Falcons 17
- Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Saints 29, Falcons 13
- Bill Bender, Sporting News: Saints 24, Falcons 23
- Gil Alcaraz IV, NFL Spin Zone: Falcons 21, Saints 20
Saints overwhelming favorites to beat Falcons in Week 1
Only Gil Alcaraz of NFL Spin Zone picked the Saints to fall to the dirty birds this weekend. It's not hard to see why Alcaraz went in that direction, as this is a divisional matchup and anything can happen in those games, especially in Week 1. Remember a few years back when the Buccaneers came into the SuperDome and put up massive numbers with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm? Weird stuff happens in Week 1.
The Saints should end up taking down the dirty birds of Atlanta but it takes some time for teams to gel and live up to who they'll be for the duration of the year.