The Atlanta Falcons are getting 70 percent consensus as the right football pick for Thursday night's game against the New Orleans Saints. Looks like Julio is good to go.
Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 14: 18-11 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 12-18 Total
Hamstring injuries are no fun. You tweak one of those bad boys even a little, and all of a sudden, every step you take becomes an adventure. Hamstrings can heal quickly enough, or they can get a lot worse if you push it. The Atlanta Falcons hope it's the former when it comes to their top receiver, Julio Jones. He's listed as probable for Thursday night's matchup (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFLN) at the Superdome against the struggling New Orleans Saints.
Even with the short layoff between games, Jones was expected to start on Thursday. He might not play as many snaps as he normally would, but that hasn't stopped 70 percent of bettors from pounding the Falcons as 3.5-point road faves, moving the spread from –3 at the open. D'oh! Yet another example of why shopping early is usually the right move. At least there are still some deals with the vigorish on our NFL odds board at press time.
With Brandon Fields the Saints Could Blow
Or should we be jumping for joy that the Saints (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS) are getting that extra half-point at home? Let's be blunt: The Falcons (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) are the obvious NFL pick in this matchup, but we need to consider both sides of the equation. For all their faults, the Saints do have a much better offensive line this year, at least in terms of run blocking. Things should improve even further with RG Jahri Evans (knee) and LT Terron Armstead (knee) returning to practice this week. Evans says he will play Thursday after missing the last three games. Armstead is less likely to suit up.
Then again, LG Tim Lelito hurt his shoulder in last week's 39-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (–6.5 at home) and wasn't able to practice Tuesday. We'll call it a wash for now. Here's another under-the-radar injury: Pro Bowl punter Thomas Morstead looks like he'll miss another week with a strained quad. Freshly-signed Brandon Fields, who made the Pro Bowl with the 2013 Miami Dolphins, shanked one of his six punts in Philly. Maybe it's just a case of ring rust. The Saints sure hope so.
Morstread was one of the few players making a positive impact on special teams this year – Marcus Murphy was the other, after taking a punt return to the house against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3. Field goals have been a problem; you may recall Zach Hocker nailing the left upright from 30 yards out in Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys and costing us a payday. When you're thinking about making a play on an underdog, these are not the traits you're looking for. Falcons, please.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Falcons –3.5 (+102) at Pinnacle