Can the New Orleans Saints overcome their recent home woes to beat the Atlanta Falcons in week 16 NFL betting? Find out as we weigh in on the NFL odds currently trading at online sports betting shops and serve up our NFL picks.
Atlanta Falcons (5-9 SU, 2-5 SU away)
Despite a losing 5-9 SU record, the Atlanta Falcons are still in the running for a playoff spot. Such is the current mess that is the NFC South, but it's coming down to the wire with just two games left on the season.
The Falcons have swooned to back-to-back losses in the last two rounds of gridiron action. In week 14 NFL betting they lost to the Green Bay Packers 43-37 at Lambeau, and last week they were dealt a second straight setback behind a 27-20 loss to the surging Pittsburgh Steelers at home.
The results of the past fortnight leaves the Falcons with absolutely no wiggle room. They must win their last two games if they hope to control their destiny. In what appears to be a rather interesting plot twist on the schedule that few could have anticipated at the start of the season, the Falcons are set to close the term on dates against the Saints and Panthers, respectively. The only two teams standing between them and the divisional title, which would all but ensure a postseason outing if they won both.
New Orleans Saints (6-8 SU, 3-4 SU home)
New Orleans Saints are unrecognisable this season. No longer a viable contender in the NFL nor a force to be reckoned with at home, the Saints strike a rather poor figure on the NFL odds board.
Saints boast a 3-4 SU record at the Superdome, which includes (somewhat shockingly) a four-game losing streak ahead of their week 16 date with the Falcons. Since losing to the Niners 27-24 in overtime in week 10 NFL betting, the Saints added losses to Cincinnati (27-10), Baltimore (34-27) and Carolina (41-10) to extend their run of poor form at the once hallowed grounds of the Superdome.
Amidst those perplexing results at home, the Saints somehow managed to win a couple of road games. They beat the Steelers 35-32 in week 13 NFL betting and the Bears 31-15 in week 15 NFL betting. Indeed, the win over the Bears saw the Drew Brees put in one of his better performances this season, going 29-of-36 for 375 yards and three touchdowns.
NFL Betting Verdict
In the most wide-open division this season, the NFL betting landscape cuts fine despite the NFL odds. The Saints, who have struggled to win at home in their last four home affairs, enter the NFL betting markets as the solid favorites to both win SU and cover. Online sportsbooks are trading the Saints as the whopping -260 NFL betting favorites and the 6-point home chalk against the spread. Goes to show how much is down to perception rather than current reality because based on recent form the Saints certainly don't deserve such a vote of confidence.
The same could be said of the Falcons who are simply atrocious on the road this season. Granted they put in a really gutsy performance in Green Bay to hang 37 points on the Packers in a 43-37 loss (the most any team has managed to score at Lambeau). At the end of the day, it's the win-loss record that speaks volumes and their 2-5 SU road record isn't going to cut it, obviously. Hence, they are the significant underdogs trading at +215 SU to win outright and the 6-point road pups.
It's interesting to note that early NFL betting trends show the public is backing the Falcons over the Saints against the spread ever so slightly with a 52-48 split. Both sides are 6-8 ATS on the season and, at the same time, the Saints are 2-5 ATS at home while the Falcons are 2-5 ATS on the road.
Betting on this game is a case of splitting hairs between two teams that are simply unimpressive this season. If there were one aspect to tip the scale towards the Saints, it's the fact that they've owned the Falcons in recent memory. They are 13-4 SU against the Falcons in their last 17 meetings. On paper, the Saints have the edge, which could see them finally stem the bleeding at home and clinch the pivotal win that would put them in pole position for the NFC South title.
Falcons could mastermind the upset however, make no mistake. Whether they do or don't comes down to Julio Jones if he is cleared to play on Sunday. Against the Packers, Jones had a career best 259 receiving yards before being sidelined with a hip injury. He didn't play last week against the Steelers. If he's cleared to play against the Saints, watch if the Falcons don't at least cover the 6-point spread, if not totally upset the Saints. Defense has been a huge concern for Sean Payton and Company and Jones is exactly the sort of player to expose such shortcomings.
For our money, we're going to take a chance on the Saints. They put in a concentrated effort against the Bears on Monday night to move into pole position in the NFC South and if they win this game and the Panthers lose in the same week, they'll clinch the divisional title. That's motivation and incentive and with home advantage, even if it hasn't been auspicious lately, they have their best shot. So we're banking on the Saints to win and cover. Although we don't recommend betting the farm on it.
NFL Free Picks: Saints -260 and -6.0 at The Greek