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

Atlanta FalconsHere’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