Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Pick

by | Nov 20, 2018 | nfl

Atlanta Falcons (4-6 SU, 3-7 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (9-1 SU, 8-2 ATS)
Date/Time: Thursday, November 22, 8:20 PM EST
Where: Superdome, New Orleans, LA
TV: NBC

By: Keith Allen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Atl +12 / NO -12 (GT Bets)
Over/Under Total: 59

It’s an NFC South battle to close out a Thanksgiving day full of football as the Atlanta Falcons come to New Orleans to take on the Saints. The Saints march in as potentially the best team in the league, while the Falcons have been stuck in neutral all year and now appears to be rolling downhill. The Saints are unquestionably the better team and may end up hoisting the Lombardi trophy in February, but the play is to take the Falcons and the 12 points in this division match up. Here are 3 reasons.

Statistically These Teams are Even

When these teams met in week 3 with identical 1-1 records in Atlanta, the Falcons were 4 point favorites. Both teams were considered top 3 teams in the NFC, both had an equal chance to be 9-1 coming into this game, and it would take a lot of injuries for one of the teams to be 4-6, but the Falcons were considered a slightly better team. Since winning that week 3 game in overtime, everything has clicked for New Orleans, and everything has gone wrong for Atlanta. This combination has inflated this line to the Saints laying 12 points in this division game. Now the teams have gone in the opposite directions, but the underlying stats are remarkably similar.

49ers vs Buccs Free Pick

Both teams average 6.3 yards per play, score touchdowns in the red zone at about a 70% rate, and have less than 10 turnovers on the season. The Falcons are actually slightly better in passing yards per game and converting 3rd downs. The Saints defensive stats are slightly better than the Falcons. They allow 6.3 yards per play compared to 6.5 for the Falcons and New Orleans has recorded 4 more sacks on the year.

The underlying stats make these teams about even. With the stats being even, we could expect each team having a good chance to win the game. Generally, lines for games where either team could win should be less than a touchdown even is one of the teams is has a significantly better record, so there is definitely line value on the Falcons.

Expect a Close Division Game

The 12 point line implies the Falcons will lay down for the Saints, and the only question in the game is if the Falcons can get some 4th quarter points to get a back door cover. Atlanta has suffered a couple of losses in the last 2 weeks against the Browns and Cowboys while the Saints were steam rolling the Bengals and the Eagles. It could be easy to just assume this game will be another in that line with the Saints jumping out early and having their way with Atlanta.

However, this is a heated division game and that will have Atlanta primed to throw a wrench in the Saints plans. In the week 3 game, the Falcons scored 37 points and led inside the last 2 minutes of the game before Drew Brees led a game tying drive, and then the game winning drive in overtime. Since 2016, these teams have played 6 games and 5 of those game have been decided by less than one score. The only game that was greater than 1 score was a 10 point game last year in the playoffs. The game hasn’t been won by more than 12 points since 2011. Despite their 3-7 ATS record this year Atlanta is 2-1 ATS in division and the Saints are only 1-1 ATS in division. The saying that you can throw the records out the window when these 2 teams meet certainly applies here. Atlanta has a lot of pride as a team, and will show up to give the Saints all they got. Atlanta will not get rolled by the Saints like the Bengals and Eagles have in the past 2 weeks. This division game will be competitive for the full 60 minutes.

Expect a Close Division Game

The 12 point line implies the Falcons will lay down for the Saints, and the only question in the game is if the Falcons can get some 4th quarter points to get a back door cover. Atlanta has suffered a couple of losses in the last 2 weeks against the Browns and Cowboys while the Saints were steam rolling the Bengals and the Eagles. It could be easy to just assume this game will be another in that line with the Saints jumping out early and having their way with Atlanta.

However, this is a heated division game and that will have Atlanta primed to throw a wrench in the Saints plans. In the week 3 game, the Falcons scored 37 points and led inside the last 2 minutes of the game before Drew Brees led a game tying drive, and then the game winning drive in overtime. Since 2016, these teams have played 6 games and 5 of those game have been decided by less than one score. The only game that was greater than 1 score was a 10 point game last year in the playoffs. The game hasn’t been won by more than 12 points since 2011. Despite their 3-7 ATS record this year Atlanta is 2-1 ATS in division and the Saints are only 1-1 ATS in division. The saying that you can throw the records out the window when these 2 teams meet certainly applies here. Atlanta has a lot of pride as a team, and will show up to give the Saints all they got. Atlanta will not get rolled by the Saints like the Bengals and Eagles have in the past 2 weeks. This division game will be competitive for the full 60 minutes.

New Orleans Tax

The Saints are obviously the hottest team in the league. They have won 9 games in a row straight up and 8 in a row ATS after coming out flat in weeks 1 & 2. Three weeks ago they hosted the Rams and the betting market believed the Rams were the better team as LA was only getting 1½ points. Of course, the Saints won that game by 10 points and left no doubt they were the team to beat, then they were 6 point favorites in Cincinnati and last week were 7½ point favorites hosting Philadelphia. The public has been riding the Saints and cashing tickets and now the sportsbooks are making it expensive. Philadelphia and Atlanta played opening week and the game was basically pick-em and would be pick-em next week if they played again. That means it is costing 4 ½ points more to back the Saints in this spot.

Drew Brees is making a run at the MVP award (Bet On MVP), continuously putting points on the scoreboard by spreading the ball around to his multiple play makers. The Saints defense is playing better each week, so there is a lot of justification for a tax, but not this much. A 1 or 2 point tax making this line 9 or 9½ would have made a little more difficult to decide, but 4½ means the Saints have to blow out the Falcons to cover.

Play the Dirty Birds

Atlanta’s Dirty Birds getting 12 points in this game is Thanksgiving gift. Play the road dog Falcons +12.

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