The unbeaten Atlanta Falcons head to Louisiana to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in a Thursday night primetime NFC South affair. Who should we back with our NFL picks?
With the visiting and red-hot Falcons 3-0 ATS the L3 in this series, is backing Atlanta at the betting window and laying the modest number the thing to do here? Let’s look at the Trends and numbers in this series and come up with a logical NFL pick or two for this game which features two Pass-happy QBs in Drew Brees and the Falcons' Matt Ryan.
Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints, Thursday (CBS, NFL Network, Directv 212, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT): The New Orleans Saints (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS) and veteran QB Drew Brees (Shoulder) welcome the Atlanta Falcons (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans for Thursday Night Football in this CBS primetime Week 6 meeting in the suddenly relevant NFC South. Currently, the Falcons are solid 3-point favorites in sportsbooks here in Las Vegas, Offshore and Online—with the heavier, -120 vigorish on the Atlanta in most sportsbooks—while the Total in this game is 51 everywhere although SportsInteraction, Bookmaker and Wynn Las Vegas all are hanging 51½’s. On the Money Line, visitors and favorite Atlanta is priced at -165 NFL odds with host New Orleans priced at +140 on the takeback (PaddyPower).
The Atlanta Falcons Team Total Points for this game is 27 (Ladbrokes) while the New Orleans Saints Team Total Points has been set at 24 (Ladbrokes). First Half Total markets as well as other Props bets for this Week 6 game from The Big Easy will be released later in the week. An Alternate Point Spread? Falcons -2½ -150, Seahawks +2½ +110 (Ladbrokes). The Advanced Line from the Westgate SuperBook here in Las Vegas had the undefeated Falcons as 2½-point favorites last week (Tuesday) while the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened this game at (Saints minus) 3½ in its NFL Games of the Year released late this Spring.
The Atlanta Falcons (162 PF-112 PA) have totally turned things around this season under new Head Coach Dan Quinn, and with QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, WR Roddy White, TE Jacob Tamme and breakout RB Devonta Freeman and others, Atlanta (12/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) is off to a 5-0 start and thinking about winning both the NFC South and maybe getting Home-field advantage in the NFC for the Playoffs. But it’s only October, so that means the Dirty Birds will have to go one game at a time, and that starts with this Week 6 lidlifter in The Big Easy on Thursday night.
On Sunday in Week 5 action, the Falcons (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) and QB Matt Ryan (32-28 ATS on Road) needed a Robert Alford Pick-6 in OT to beat the Redskins in Atlanta to stay unbeaten. It was the first non-cover for Atlanta who were 7-point favorites, and who only failed to Push at -7 because the Extra Point wasn’t kicked with the immediate Falcons win. Sports gambling. Best always have some Pepto-Bismol at hand.
For Thursday’s game at New Orleans, despite some reports, expect Falcons star WR Julio Jones (Hamstring, Toe) to go here, and that’s a good thing (as always) for the visitors from the Peach State as Ryan targets Jones frequently in every game, and just going to him so much—and having the Defense thinking about that possibility—opens up the Falcons Rushing attack for guys like Freeman (93 rushes, 408 yards, 8 TDs), who has probably been pretty good in those Fantasy leagues. Besides Jones, fellow WR Leonard Hankerson (Ribs) and LB Justin Durant (Ribs) are both also listed as Questionable while WR Devin Hester (Toe) remains on the Injured-Reserve List and is slated for an early December return. CB Travis Howard (Undisclosed), FB Collin Mooney (Undisclosed) and G Jon Asamoah (Hip) are all on the I-R List while T Lamar Holmes (Foot) is eligible to return next week (Week 7) for Atlanta.
The Falcons have scored the second-most points in the NFL (162), only trailing the Arizona Cardinals, so if you want an easy betting concept, make Straight Bets only on the NFL teams beginning with the letter ‘A’ (Arizona, Atlanta). Not only do these Falcons and Cardinals fly high in the Scoring Department (#2, #1), the Falcons (4-1 ATS) and the Cardinals (4-1 ATS) are a combined 8-2 ATS (80%) so far this Regular Season, and these two sort of are flying under the radar with so much attention always on the Fab 4 (Patriots, Packers, Seahawks, Broncos) and the Indianapolis Colts. Embrace the A’s.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints (103-143) are a mess. Their Defense ranks as the second-worst in the NFC, allowing 143 points (Tampa Bay has given up 148 points) and aging star QB Drew Brees has less dangerous Skill Position weapons than he’s ever had with this club. In Week 5 action on Sunday, the Saints (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS) were beaten up by the Eagles in Philadelphia, 39-17, as Brees had a somewhat productive day (26/43, 325 yards, 2 TDs, Interception) but rumors of New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton being sought after by the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts cropped up after the Loss, never a good thing for a team with 10 weeks left in the Regular Season. But at the root of all this speculation is the simple Truth here is that these teams would simply like to talk to Mr. Payton (74-67-2 ATS) at some point in The Future, and that the 9-year Saints Head Coach still has 2 years left on his contract.
The Media loves running with the smallest morsel, followed by many readers not caring of the details and preferring to gobble up the sensationalistic headlines as that’s much easier than actually reading the story itself. Slow down. A source reportedly said that many NFL teams would like to talk to Sean Payton in the future about being their Head Coach. That is all. There is nothing to see here. The Dolphins and Colts and others will be seeking new Head Coaches next season and New Orleans’ Payton is the logical veteran HC the Media and other NFL teams first think of.
This season, he coaches this motley Saints crew, led by a QB with a bruised Rotator Cuff and a Defense which could end up being the worst in the NFL this season. Adversity is good. Besides Brees banged up Shoulder, New Orleans (250/1 to win Super Bowl, Ladbrokes) also has Injuries to WR Marques Colston (Shoulder), DE Bobby Richardson (Hip), G Jahri Evans (Knee), P Thomas Morstead (Leg), and T Terron Armstead (Knee), all of whom are listed as Questionable for Thursday, while S Rafael Bush, CB PJ Williams, LB Davis Tull and LB Anthony Spencer are all on the Injured-Reserve List, making a shaky Saints Defense even shakier.
Series Numbers, Recent Relevant Trends and Game Expectations
Last year in this series, the Falcons won outright and covered against the Saints at Home in Atlanta in Week 1 as 3-point underdogs, 37-34, while here at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Atlanta also won and covered as a 6-point underdog, rolling over New Orleans, 30-14 in Week 16. The Falcons are 3-0 ATS in the L3 meetings in this NFC South series but 1-3 ATS L4 at New Orleans, the lone cover coming in that aforementioned meeting in The Big Easy last season. Here on Thursday night, expect heavy doses of RB Devonta Freeman for Atlanta as well as plenty of passing from Ryan to his many targets, and the availability of Jones will be big, but expect him to play and be targeted frequently—good things for Atlanta and Over backers as the Saints DBs will have trouble containing the University of Georgia product and he will want to show off on national TV.
Also, expect much passing from Brees in a game in which the hosts need to win to avoid seeing the Regular Season go down the proverbial tubes. Not so long ago New Orleans and Brees had guys like TE Jimmy Graham, WR Robert Meachem, RB Reggie Bush and the dangerous RB Darren Sproles to work with. But now, with a bum Shoulder, Brees has an injured Marques Colston to look for and guys like WR Brandin Cooks, RB Mark Ingram, TE Josh Hill and TE Ben Wilson. But somehow the Saints have still scored scored 19, 19, 22, 26 and 17 points somehow (20.6 ppg), possibly out of sheer attrition and opponents being so far ahead.
New Orleans will likely get its standard 20 points at Home here with its favorite QB Brees, but the unblemished Falcons will try to score 100 points with all Offensive hands—Freeman (27 rushes, 153 yards, TD vs. Redskins), Tevin Coleman, Jones, White, Tamme (8 receptions, 94 yards vs. Redskins) and Hankerson if he can go—on deck in primetime in The Big Easy. And after playing Washington and its tough D, facing New Orleans and its D will be like a live scrimmage that counts in the standings for Atlanta. One Roster here (Falcons) is deep and motivated under a new Head Coach (Quinn), while the Saints Roster is thin and players now have to hear rumors about their HC leaving. Not a good Gumbo recipe.
Predicted Final Score: Atlanta Falcons 37 New Orleans Saints 20
NFL Picks: Falcons -3 , Over 51 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)