Week 1 Preview: New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons

The New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons will face off this Sunday in a divisional matchup to establish an early season pecking order in the NFC South. The Saints return quarterback Jameis Winston to the starting lineup, who led the team to a 4-2 start last year before a devastating ACL tear, and the Falcons open their season without quarterback Matt Ryan for the first time since 2007. As a result, they find themselves 5.5-point underdogs to the Saints.

The Saints began last year on a hot streak that included dominant wins over the eventual one-seed Green Bay Packers and the eventual two-seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But Winston's injury would derail a promising season in New Orleans, and their year would end with six losses in their final 10 games. With Winston back, and an improved receiver group that includes former Pro Bowlers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry as well as first-round pick Chris Olave, the Saints are looking to pick up right where they left off.
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The Falcons, meanwhile, will field a radically different team than the one that stumbled to a 7-10 record last year. Former second-overall pick Marcus Mariota takes over for the departed Matt Ryan, and he'll have to navigate a shaky roster that lost its stud receiver Calvin Ridley to a gambling suspension. Mariotta will lean heavily on second-year tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver turned running back Cordarrelle Patterson, but barring the new Falcons passer proving a massive upgrade over Ryan, it's unlikely the Falcons can exceed last year's 26th overall points scored ranking.

The Atlanta Falcons visit the New Orleans Saints this Sunday in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.

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