NFL Coach of the Year favorite? It's easily Atlanta's Dan Quinn as the Falcons look to become the league's first 6-0 team Thursday Night in New Orleans. Let's examine some Falcons NFL props.
Is Atlanta a good team? Probably. But are the Falcons also a lucky team? Somewhat. They likely should have lost last week at home to Washington but rallied to tie late in regulation and then won on an interception return in overtime. Might have been a bit of a trap game ahead of this quick turnaround against the rival Saints, however. The Falcons are the first team in NFL history to start a season 5-0 with four of those wins coming after trailing at some point in the fourth quarter. They were one of seven teams in Week 5 to rally from a fourth-quarter deficit for a victory. Atlanta is also one of six unbeaten teams, along with Cincinnati (5-0), Denver (5-0), Green Bay (5-0), division rival Carolina (4-0) and New England (4-0). The NFL record for the most 5-0 teams in a single season is five, which was set in 2009. I'm not sure that record will be broken. The Falcons are 3.5-point favorites on NFL odds. The Bengals are -3.5 at Buffalo on Sunday. The Broncos are -4 at the Browns. The Packers are -10.5 (largest favorites of week) at home vs. the Chargers. And the Patriots are -7.5 at the Colts in the "Deflategate" rematch. So those five could all win. But the Panthers aren't likely to make it six as they are +6.5 at Seattle.
Atlanta is the heavy -350 favorite on NFL odds to win the NFC South at BetOnline and the Falcons are +4000 to finish the regular season 16-0. That's obviously unlikely to happen, but Atlanta's remaining schedule isn't very tough. Win this one and it could be 9-0 entering its bye week. After the Saints, the games are: at Titans, vs. Bucs, at 49ers. All below-.500 teams. After bye: vs. Colts, vs. Vikings, at Bucs, at Panthers, at Jaguars, vs. Panthers, vs. Saints.
Matt Ryan 'Over/Under' 23.5 Completions, 285.5 Passing Yards, 1.5 TDs, .5 INTs
Ryan is off to a solid start as he is third in the NFL in passing yards with 1,456 and is completing 64.9 percent of his throws with six touchdowns and four interceptions. But his rating of 90.7 is only 18th in the NFL. Ryan seems to thrive in Thursday night games. He has a 4-1 record in his career and has completed 120 of 172 (69.8 percent) for 1,283 yards, 10 touchdowns and no picks for a terrific rating of 110.7. Since 2010, Ryan's 10 touchdown passes in Thursday games are tied with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers for the most -- teams only play once a year on Thursday unless they also play on Thanksgiving. Obviously Ryan knows the Saints well, playing them twice a year. The Falcons swept New Orleans in 2014. In a home overtime win in Week 1, Ryan was 31-for-43 for a franchise-record 448 yards with three scores and no picks. In a 30-14 win in New Orleans in Week 16, he was 30-for-40 for 322 yards with a TD and pick. The 2015 Saints are No. 23 in passing defense.
NFL Free Picks: 'OVER' all.
Devonta Freeman O/U 80.5 Rushing Yards, -225 To Score A Touchdown
Freeman wasn't even Atlanta's starter in Week 1 as rookie Tevin Coleman won the starting job. But Coleman then went down with an injury -- he's back now -- and Freeman has exploded. He is in a three-way tie for second in the NFL with 405 rushing yards and leads the NFL with eight rushing scores. Freeman is the first player in NFL history in the Super Bowl era to rush for at least seven touchdowns in his first three starts to begin a career. In three games this season he has rushed for 68 yards or less. In two others, he has had at least 141. He also got at least 27 carries in each of those. The Saints are 31st in the NFL against the run.
NFL Free Picks: 'UNDER' & Yes.
Julio Jones O/U 7 Receptions, 90.5 Yards
The big injury question for this game was whether Jones, the NFL's top receiver this season, would play on a short week as he was questionable for Week 5 with toe and hamstring injuries. But Jones played against the Redskins and will in this one, although the Falcons will "monitor his pitch count." I guarantee you that if Atlanta gets up or down big, Jones comes out. Then he can get 10 days of rest. Jones was a monster the first three weeks but has slowed down the past two with a total of nine catches for 105 yards and no scores.
NFL Free Picks: 'UNDER' both. He could come out at anytime.