The New Orleans Saints hadn’t even started playing in Week 12 when their NFL odds for Week 13 started coming out. Does this benefit Atlanta Falcons supporters as both teams make the short turnaround for Thursday Night Football?
Just when you thought it was safe to bet on the Saints – they ran into
an unstoppable force named Colin Kaepernick, who made my Week 12 NFL picks profitable
by outperforming Drew Brees in a 31-21 win over New Orleans (+1 at home). That
was just the second missed payday for the Saints (5-6 SU, 6-5 ATS) since they
stumbled out of the gate with three straight upset losses.
What impact will this defeat have on the NFL betting lines? Before the
Saints even kicked off this past Sunday, they were pegged as small underdogs
for Week 13 against the Falcons (10-1 SU, 6-4-1 ATS). And that’s the way it
remained after 60 minutes.
Get Him to The Greek
Here’s what was on the football betting menu Sunday afternoon:
BetOnline: New Orleans +3 (–105)
bwin: New Orleans +3.5
Then the fine NFL odds makers at The Greek opened with the Saints at +3 (–115)
just minutes after the Niners finished off New Orleans. And the rest of the
market quickly followed suit. Guess we won’t be seeing the same kind of giant NFL
line moves we’ve seen in some instances when the books open early.
But should we? The Saints might have to win every single game down the
stretch just to salvage an NFC Wild Card. And the Falcons will be looking for a
measure of revenge after New Orleans spoiled their undefeated season in Week
10, winning 31-27 as a 1-point home dog.
The Falcons and the Snow Job
We haven’t been talking much about Atlanta since that loss. The argument
at the time was that the Falcons were overrated, and that argument had plenty
of merit if you compared the team’s record to its efficiency stats. But the
counter-argument from an NFL betting perspective was that Atlanta is a fairly
small market without much national fan support.
As it turned out, the Falcons failed to cover either of their two games
after the Saints loss. They needed fourth-quarter touchdowns from Michael “The
Burner” Turner to beat the slumping Arizona Cardinals (+9.5 away) 23-19 and the
surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1 at home) 24-23. This from an Atlanta team that
went into Week 12 ranked No. 12 in the league in efficiency.
The Big Queasy
The Saints, meanwhile, had rocketed up the efficiency charts all the way
to No. 14 before that loss to the Niners. But my goodness, their defense still
needs some work. Only the Indianapolis Colts had a worse unit in terms of
efficiency going into Week 12.
As we all know, the best defense is a good offense. The Saints were No.
5 in that category and despite severe resistance managed to score three
touchdowns against the No. 6-ranked San Francisco defense. The Falcons were No.
17 in offense and No. 14 in defense going into Week 12. And that defense might
be vulnerable in Week 13 if DB Asante Samuel (11 passes defended, two INTs, one
TD) and starting DT Corey Peters can’t play. They both left the Tampa Bay game
with shoulder injuries.
New Orleans could also have a problem at right tackle with undrafted
rookie Bryce Harris suffering a lower-leg injury against the Niners and getting
carted off the field. Harris was doing a solid job in place of first-stringer Zach
Strief (groin) and second-stringer Charles Brown (knee). The Saints ended up
rushing for 59 yards on 21 carries against San Francisco and allowed Brees to
get sacked five times. I think this will be their undoing against Atlanta.
NFL Picks: Take the Falcons –3.5
(+103) at Pinnacle