NFL Picks: Atlanta to Stay Unbeaten vs. Brees Led Saints

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 1:24 PM GMT

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 1:24 PM GMT

Our NFL handicapper suggests you jump on this line early as one team presents great value as Week 6 opens up on Thursday Night Football with the Falcons and Saints.

In the Week 6 opener on Thursday night we have an NFC South matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. The fortune of these two teams has been on the opposite end of the spectrum lately, with Atlanta undefeated at 5-0 and New Orleans at 1-4 coming into this game at the Superdome. The Falcons are rightly favored in this game by 3.5 points at most books. The O/U total is the lowest it has been in the last 8 matchups between these teams, coming in at 51 at Pinnacle.

One might be wondering why the spread is not higher between the undefeated team in Atlanta and the 1-4 Saints. Of course, this being a home game for the Saints we have the typical three points added to their side – at a neutral field we might see Atlanta favored by 6.5 points. I think the real reason the Falcons aren’t favored by more than 3.5 points is the nature of their wins. Except for the blowout win against the Texans in Week 4, the Falcons have had to come back from behind in the 4th quarter to secure a win. Atlanta is the first team in NFL history to have four comeback wins in the first 5 weeks of the season.

One of the reasons for Atlanta’s success has been the play of wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman. Freeman has 8 TD’s through the first five weeks of the season, a stat that has only been matched twice more in the last ten years. Julio Jones is 2nd in the NFL in receiving yards with 545, and of course, Matt Ryan is 2nd in the NFL in passing yards as well with 1,456. The offense is 3rd overall in scoring with 32.4 PPG and 2nd in the NFL in 3rd down conversion percentage. Time of possession is also 2nd ranked in the league. Atlanta’s offense is pretty damn good.

Atlanta’s defense is ranked first in the NFL against the run through Week 5, giving up only 78.4 YPG. This is offset by their struggles defending the pass, as they are 29th in the league in giving up 288 YPG. Teams definitely attack the Atlanta secondary, and this will be important with this matchup against Drew Brees and the Saints.

Unfortunately for the Saints, their receiver corps are not in the best shape to take advantage of the maligned Falcon secondary. Aging Marques Colston is consistently on the injury report and finds himself there with Brandin Cooks who is nursing an ankle injury. Still, the Saints are 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, with 302 per game. It’s the only thing their offense does remotely well; however, most of those yards have been in garbage time when the Saints were playing from behind. And they are always behind, it’s what happens when you are ranked 32nd in the NFL in giving up passing yards (409 YPG) and 29th in the league in giving up points (28.6 PPG).

Coming off of the short week I love Atlanta here. They are definitely healthier which is paramount playing on 3 days of rest. They’ve found a way to win close games while New Orleans is entering full blown rebuild mode. Atlanta took both of the meetings between these two teams in 2014, and it could be said pretty easily that Atlanta got better this year while New Orleans got worse.

And more importantly, this was the line the last time Drew Brees met a Dan Quinn led defense in Seattle: 23-38 for 147 Yards with a 77.4 QB rating. Take Atlanta -3 at Heritage as one of your Week 6 NFL Picks.

NFL Pick: Atlanta -3 (-110) at Heritage

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