NFL Saints vs. Falcons Betting the Total

Darin Zank

Thursday, November 21, 2013 3:23 PM GMT

Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 3:23 PM GMT

Earlier this week we previewed tonight's New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons NFC South battle at the Georgia Dome, and offered up a pick on the pointspread. Today we'll take a look at the total, and make a pick on that, too.

The Number

Most NFL betting outlets opened the NFL odds total on this game at 52 or 53; as of Thursday morning the lowest we could find was 52.5, the highest 53.5.

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Saints-Falcons By the Numbers

Three numbers catch our attention when homeworking this game; Atlanta ranks 31st in the league in rushing at 73 yards per game, and 30th vs. the run, allowing 133 YPG. This means a couple of things; one, the Falcons can't run the ball, so they've got to throw it. With throws come incompletions and plays that go out of bounds, so the clock stops a lot. That's good for OVERS.

Also, Atlanta is having trouble stopping the run. And if the Saints start running for 5-6-7 yards a pop, and the Falcons have to start pressing the line, Drew Brees might make them look silly. Again, good for the OVER.

Also, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has thrown nine interceptions over his last four games. Perhaps he'll throw one or two tonight. Of course, that can work both ways; a pick in the red zone takes points off the board, while a pick in Atlanta territory could set New Orleans up with a short field.  

The Kickers

Kickers play a big part in our handicapping NFL totals. A couple of good kickers kicking in the pristine conditions of a dome (perfect surface, zero wind) can account for 12-15 points on field goals. Outdoors, on grass, in even just a breeze, 50-yarders are tough; in domes, 60-yarders are possible.

New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley is 19-for-25 on field goals this season, with a long of 55. Hartley had missed four field goal attempts in his previous three games, but went 3-for-3 last Sunday, all in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner.

Atlanta K Matt Bryant is 15-for-16 on FGs this year, with a long of 53; he's almost automatic in this dome.

Saints-Falcons Recent History

New Orleans has won five of the last six meetings in this rivalry. Most recently the Saints beat Atlanta opening week of this season 23-17 at the Superdome.

However, the last time these teams met in Atlanta, last November, the Falcons picked Brees off five times and won 23-13.

That Week 1 game of this season played UNDER its total of 54 in part because both teams had to settle for very short field goals, instead of punching it in for six points. The teams combined for almost 800 yards of offense, it's just that a lot of that was made between the 20s.

In Ryan vs. Brees match-ups the totals have gone 6-5, as those 11 games have averaged 50 points per.

Make sure to check out SBRs:

Thursday Night Football Pick: Saints vs. Falcons

NFL Picks: Saints vs. Falcons Betting the Spread

Saints-Falcons Betting Trends

New Orleans is 5-5 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Saints games have averaged 47 total points.

Also, the Saints are averaging 33 PPG in domes this year.

Atlanta is 6-4 on the totals this season, as Falcons games have averaged 51 points.

Atlanta has scored at least 23 points in four of five home games this year.

Injury Update

New Orleans might be down two starters in the defensive secondary, with Jabari Greer out and Kenny Vaccaro questionable. Perhaps Ryan could take advantage, to the tune of a couple of scores.

However, Saints scat-back/kick returner Darren Sproles is not expected to play because of a sore ankle.

For Atlanta TE Tony Gonzalez is questionable with a bad toe.

Our Take on Tonight's Total

If this game plays out like several of Atlanta's previous games this season, the Falcons will fall behind by two or three scores, then score a couple of “oh, by the way” touchdowns for, say, a 37-21 loss. Last week Atlanta fell down 38-6 to Tampa, then scored three times to make the final score 41-28; earlier this year they fell down 30-13 against New England, then scored the final 10 points; they fell down two touchdowns to the Jets, rallied to take the lead, then lost on a FG at the buzzer 30-28.

Also, we'd guess there's a decent chance of a defensive/special teams touchdowns tonight, considering the ball is likely to be in the air a lot. One of those, and the O/U gets knocked down to 46.

New Orleans may score 40 points in this game; can Atlanta score 14? Yeah, we think so.

So we'll go with the OVER 52.5 offered at Pinnacle Sports for our free NFL pick on the total for tonight

NFL Pick: OVER 52.5

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