Monday’s Matchup

Those hoping to stop the Falcons’ robotic assimilation of the N.F.C. may finally have found a bug in their program: run defense. The Falcons have allowed 454 rushing yards in their last three games. Opponents like the Panthers and the Seahawks were not able to capitalize; when a team is trailing, 34-10, a few 20-yard runs aren’t much good.

The Saints are ill-equipped to exploit the Falcons’ weakness. Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are healthy, joining Chris Ivory to give Sean Payton so many rushing options that the only fair thing to do is abandon the run completely so no one can complain about his carries. That’s a slight exaggeration, but Payton can never call for an off-tackle run when the fake-double-reverse screen to Bush is available. Pick: FalconsMIKE TANIER

New Orleans Saints (10-4) at Atlanta Falcons (12-2) 8:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN Line: Falcons by 2 1/2


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