2021 NFL picks, score predictions for Week 18

The Indianapolis Star
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NFL picks and predictions
NFL picks and predictions – Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images /

New Orleans Saints (8-8) at Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

Sunday, January 9, 4:25PM ET

Honestly, I wasn’t sure the Saints would even be in this position heading into Week 18. They narrowly survived a showdown with the Carolina Panthers, and now are faced with another divisional rival who would love to take the Saints on an early vacation with them.

And that’s exactly what’s going to happen. It’s going to take more than just a win to get the Saints to the playoffs, but they won’t even get that. The Falcons are going to welcome them into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, give them an old-fashioned butt whoopin’, and show them the door.

Okay, maybe it won’t be a slaughter. Instead, it’ll probably be a close game that comes down to the last possession to decide the winner. However, you know the Falcons will want to win what could be Matt Ryan‘s final home game with the franchise. Atlanta will have more than enough motivation to ruin the Saints’ postseason plans.

Ryan relies on Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson to move the ball against the Saints, while the Atlanta defense does just enough to avoid giving up too many points. Matty Ice puts together a game-winning drive in the final minute to shut the door on New Orleans and (potentially) go out on a positive note.

Prediction: Falcons win 24-22 | Spread: Saints (-4.5)