New Orleans Saints (8-2 SU, 2-8 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (2-8 SU, 6-4 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date and Time: Thursday Night Football, November 21, 8:25pm
Where:Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
TV: NFL Network
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: N.O. -9/ATL +9
Over/Under Total: 53
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I assume when the NFL schedule makers were putting together this season's lineup, they never imagined that a Thursday night game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons would be one of the less intriguing games of the year. What was supposed to be a virtual way in the NFC South between the Saints and the Birds has become more of a joke. The Saints are rolling, coming fresh off a comeback win over the San Francisco 49ers, while the Atlanta Falcons have lost four straight and appear to be getting worse week by week. The Falcons were utterly destroyed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday and I have come to the conclusion that as we speak, the Falcons are the worst team in all of the NFL....and yes, I am including the Jaguars in that comment. Between injuries, the worst offensive line in the history of professional football, and just overall lack of passion, the Falcons are pure trash (and remember, I am a lifelong Atlanta fan). The Saints will march into Atlanta as a nine point road favorite while the total points are set at 53. This game on paper and basing it strictly on the "eye test" seems to be an easy win for Drew Brees and the Saints, but don't be so quick to diss the birds just yet... this is a rivalry game, and in these games, anything can happen.
The New Orleans Saints are looking good this season...damn good. They rank 2nd in the league in passing yards (320 per game), and they also rank 3rd against the pass (allowing just 191 yards per contest). This team is well balanced and can hang with anyone in the NFL, and I mean anyone. Many experts and football fans are still hung up on last season. So many people are for some reason thinking that the NFC is down to Seattle and San Francisco. Well, the Saints took care of San Fran this past weekend and if they continue to win games, and get the home field throughout the NFC playoffs, I don't know anyone who can beat them. Atlanta visited New Orleans in week one and the Saints narrowly escaped with a 23-17 win with Atlanta failing to convert the winning TD inside the Saints 5 yard line in the waning seconds. Well since that time, the Falcons have fallen apart. The Saints would love nothing more than to walk into Atlanta and put this game away early. Drew Brees has actually had some pretty below average games in the Georgia Dome, including a game in which he threw 5 interceptions last season in a loss, but this isn't the same Falcons we have seen over the last 4-5 years. These guys stink. If the Saints can come out of the gate scoring and get the Falcons down a couple of scores, its over. If the Saints let Atlanta hang around, then maybe, just maybe, the Falcons can make this thing closer than many predict.
I have written on the Atlanta Falcons a few times this season. I hate to sound like a broken record, but this team is bad...really bad. Matt Ryan has no blocking and it is causing him to make bad decisions. Steven Jackson is useless, there are no wide receivers, and the defense simply doesn't seem to care. I do believe that next season, we will see the Falcons contending again, but this season is done. The Falcons in my opinion have thrown in the towel and will plan to get the best draft pick possible. I am not saying that pro athletes quit, but I just don't feel that sense of urgency we normally would from an Atlanta team in the midst of a playoff hunt. With that said, this is the Saints and Falcons. Many from around the nation don't really understand the hatred these two teams have for each other. This is a true rivalry game in the NFL. The tension among fans, and the hatred and trash talk on the message boards ranks up there with Dallas/NY, Green Bay/Chicago, and pretty much any other rivalry found in the league. In order for Atlanta to pull of the win and keep this game within reach will pretty all be about attitude. Their O Line must stop getting pushed around, their defense needs to man up and pressure Brees to make him make mistakes. Not only that, but they just need to play with some passion. Act like they care for a change. I haven't seen an inch of desire in the Falcons ever since they lost to the Jets in a Monday Night Football matchup. Ever since that game, the Falcons have given up and it has not been pretty. We all know the Falcons aren't flying very high, but can they at least keep this game within the nine points?
Bob's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Saints are the better team in the game, we all know that, but look at the recent history of the Falcons/Saints rivalry. Remember, last season was the year the Saints fell way below expectations, much like the Falcons have this season, yet they still managed to split the season series. In the last seven contests, only three of them have been decided by double digits. These games stay pretty close, even when one of the teams is the clear cut favorite. It is still early in the week and this line is going to move. I believe it will shift more in favor of the home Falcons, so jump on the plus nine points while you can. Take under the posted total of 53 points, and bet that the birds keep it reasonably close. I like New Orleans in this game 24-16.
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