The Falcons, losers of four straight, will host Drew Brees and the surging Saints on Thursday Night Football. Where's the NFL betting value for this one?
The NFL odds vary quite a bit depending on the book, with Atlanta getting anywhere from 7.5 to 9.5 points from sportsbooks. The Falcons have been a total mess this season and their 2-8 ATS record is no shock. Meanwhile, the Saints come in with 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS marks.
Think a lot of points are in order on Thursday? The O/U is right around 53 points, with the OVER hitting in four of New Orleans' past five matchups and in six of Atlanta's previous seven home games.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are looking good right now, but the Panthers are breathing down their necks in the NFC South. Only one game separates those two teams, so this road battle with Atlanta is of the utmost importance.
One week after demolishing Dallas 49-17 at home, New Orleans was given a much stiffer challenge by San Francisco.
The 49ers were leading practically the entire second half, but the Saints tied things up at 20 with two minutes to go and then Garrett Hartley hit a game-winning field goal as time expired to give New Orleans the win.
A terrific team balance has been key to the Saints' reversed fortunes this season. In the past we've seen New Orleans struggle mightily defensively, but they're currently ranked fourth in total defense. As usual, they're near the top (#2) in total offense.
Much of that credit has to go to Rob Ryan, who was brought in as the defensive coordinator and has been influential to put it mildly. What will he have cooked up for Matt Ryan and the Falcons?
Sure, the season has been terrible as a whole, but the past month has been even more depressing than usual if you're a Falcons fan.
Atlanta has dropped four consecutive games, all of which have come by double figures. They lost by 14 in Arizona, by 24 in Carolina and by 13 in Tampa Bay, and also were crushed 33-10 at home by Seattle.
The performance against the Buccaneers was perhaps the worst though. They let rookie QB mike Glennon and little-known running back Bobby Rainey stomp all over them, with the defense allowing at least 27 points for the fourth straight week.
QB Matt Ryan finished 19-of-36 for 254 yards, while recording two touchdowns and two interceptions. Harry Douglas caught six balls for 134 yards and a score, while Steven Jackson finished with 65 total yards.
About the only positive news to come lately has been the return of some key guys. Roddy White and Steven Jackson are back in the fold, so maybe we'll start to see the Falcons of old as we near the end of the regular season.
Are we really going to recommend a play on this struggling Atlanta team? Are we crazy?
Maybe a little bit. Here's why: for one, the Saints aren't nearly as dominating on the road. While they're a perfect 6-0 at home with some huge blowout wins, they've gone 2-2 on the road, with losses to the Patriots and Jets and close wins over Chicago and Tampa Bay.
It's certainly a messy situation in Atlanta, but they always seem to get up for these divisional clashes with New Orleans. Back in Week 1, the Falcons only lost by six to the Saints at the Superdome.
Injuries have plagued Atlanta throughout the year, but they're starting to get healthier and we believe they'll really battle hard with New Orleans on Thursday night. Take the home underdogs as your NFL pick.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons +9.5