Atlanta Falcons (5-9 SU, 6-8 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (6-8 SU, 6-8 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date and Time: Sunday, December 21, 1:00pm EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome - New Orleans, LA
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ATL +6.5/NOR -6.5
Over/Under Total: 56
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So we are in week 16 of the NFL season. What if I told you that one of the most important games of the week was a contest between a team that was 6-8, and the other team was 5-9. Crazy right? Well, let me break this down for you. If the New Orleans Saints beat the Falcons, then they clinch the NFC South, however, if they Atlanta Falcons take down the Saints and then the Panthers in week 17, then the Dirty Birds get the NFX South title. These two teams met in week one and the Falcons came away with a 37-34 overtime win. At that time, we thought that game waas big because both teams would come into this week with 9-10 wins each...well, nope. But, this game still matters. In a big way.
The New Orleans Saints come into this game as 6.5 point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons while the total points are set at 56 combined. In 2014, both of these teams are well below expectations as far as their win and loss record, but like we said, they both still somehow have a shot to make the playoffs, and not only make the playoffs, but host a home game. Against the spread this season, both teams are under .500 at 6-8. As of Tuesday evening, 71% of the bettors were taking the Saints to cover the nearly touchdown spread.
The Atlanta Falcons are in a must win situation. If they beat the Saints in New Orleans then head back to the Georgia Dome and take down the Panthers, they are the NFC South champions at 7-9...thats right. People make fun of this, but remember, a few years back when the Saints were defending Super Bowl champs and they traveled to take on a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team? Well, if you do not remember, let me just say that the Seahawks moved on to play another game while the Saints went home losers. As for the Falcons, they are so inconsistent. The defense is consistently bad, but the offense is hit or miss. Led by Matt Ryan, the Falcons are ranked 5th in the NFL in passing...the only problem is, they cannot run the ball at all. Averaging just 96 yards a game, the Birds rank near the bottom of the NFL in rushing. Not only are the Falcons one dimensional on offense due to a bad offensive line, but their defense sucks too. I hate to use the word sucks, but its true. Atlanta ranks dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed, and just 20th in the league against the run. If the Falcons want to win this game, or at least cover the spread, they need to score and also slow down the Saints attack. If they allow Drew Brees to get going, it could be a long day for the Birds.
The Saints are just one win away from taking the NFC South title. With that said, they do not have any room for error. This team is just as bad as the Falcons. Statistically, the Saints are a better team on offense ranking 3rd in the league in passing, and 9th in rushing. However, the New Orleans defense is bad...almost as bad as the Falcons. The Saints are allowing over 255 yards a game passing, and 132 yards a game on the ground. The Saints may be the sexy pick here, but do not be so quick to call it a lock. If this game becomes a shootout like it did in week one, Atlanta could win this thing. New Orleans needs to not only hope that Drew Brees and the offense gets going, but the defense will need to make plays too.
The Falcons and Saints rivalry has become one of the best in the NFC over the last decade or so. With that said, yeah, the Saints may seem to be the better team as we speak, but if you look at the history of this rivalry, you will realize that no one gets blown out. Four of the last six games between these two teams have been decided by less than a touchdown. Not only that, but I do not trust either team this season to cover a spread like 6.5. Will the Saints win? More than likely yes, but do not be stunned if Atlanta comes in and wins a crazy shootout. I predict the Saints win 31-28, but you never know.
Bob's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: PICK THE ATLANTA FALCONS +6.5 POINTS>
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