NFL Picks: Saints vs. Falcons Betting the Spread

Jason Lake

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 7:52 PM GMT

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 7:52 PM GMT

The New Orleans Saints are in one of those crazy NFL betting zigzag patterns. Will they zag toward the pay window Thursday night against the slumping Atlanta Falcons?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 17 inclusive:

26-23-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

4-8-1 Totals

Rackin’ frackin’ varmints. Those New Orleans Saints sure are ornery galoots. They cash in when I fade them, and they come up short when I support them. The latest debacle was in Week 11, with the Saints beating the San Francisco 49ers 23-20 in overtime. I had New Orleans as a 3.5-point home chalk. Yassin’ sassin’ snazzum frazzum…

The slippery Saints are now in a six-game zigzag pattern against the NFL point spreads. If you believe in the power of the zigzag, that means New Orleans is due to cash in on Thursday Night Football (8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN) against the Atlanta Falcons. I’m more inclined to believe in the power of Atlanta being a really bad football team. The Falcons are 7.5-point home dogs on the Week 12 NFL lines, and the NFL consensus reports show that action is leaning heavily on the Saints by a 3-to-1 margin.

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Be sure to take a look at our NFL Picks: Week 12 Betting Odds Report.

Pale Saints

Let’s take a closer look at the New Orleans zigzag. 

Week 5: NO 26, CHI 18 (NO +1)

Week 6: NO 27, NE 30 (NE –2.5)

Week 8: BUF 17, NO 35 (NO –10.5)

Week 9: NO 20, NYJ 26 (NYJ +6)

Week 10: DAL 17, NO 49 (NO –6)

Week 11: SF 20, NO 23 (SF +3.5) 

The central theme here is that it takes two to tango. If the Saints have been hard to pin down lately, part of that is on their opposition. The Jets (6-4 ATS), for example, are in an eight-game zigzag pattern. The Patriots (5-4 ATS at press time) and Bills (6-5 ATS) have been maddeningly inconsistent. But check out that Week 5 result over the Bears (2-7-1 ATS). That’s the kind of result I’m looking for on Thursday night. 

A as in Awful

I don’t always write about the Falcons (2-8 SU and ATS), but when I do, I prefer to bet against them. You might recall they were premium fade candidates during the preseason after going 13-3 SU and 9-6-1 ATS in 2012, despite only playing well enough to earn 9.1 Estimated Wins over at Football Outsiders. Regression is your friend; the Falcons have slipped to No. 22 in overall efficiency and No. 30 on defense.

The Atlanta defense has been cut off at the knees without LB Sean Weatherspoon, who made his return last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing seven games with a Lisfranc injury. Weatherspoon was still obviously not 100 percent against the Bucs, who prevailed 41-28 as 1-point home faves. It could be another week or two – if not longer – before ‘Spoon is truly game-ready.

Be sure to check out our:

NFL Picks: Week 12 Fades & Games to Avoid

NFL Picks: Week 12 Value Picks

Tackle Me Elmo 

Even if Atlanta’s defense improves, now the Falcons have major issues on the other side of the ball. LT Sam Baker (knee) was put on injured reserve the same day Weatherspoon came off, leaving QB Matt Ryan without his top blind side protector. Ryan threw two picks against Tampa Bay and ate three sacks; meanwhile RB Steven Jackson and RB Jacquizz Rodgers were each held to 3.7 yards per carry.

Saints defensive co-ordinator Rob Ryan might already be celebrating with a frosty beverage. While the New Orleans defense only ranked No. 30 against the run through Week 10, things are much better against the pass at No. 5 overall, and first overall in adjusted sack rate at 9.9 percent. For the most part, the Saints have been able to avoid serious injury this year, and they’re motivated to perform well after losing the 2012 season to Bountygate. Time to roll the dice once again in the Big Easy. 

NFL Pick: Take the Saints –7.5 at Ladbrokes
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