Cleveland Browns (6-4 SU, 5-3-2 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (4-6 SU, 4-6 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date and Time: Sunday, November 23, 1:00pm EST
Where: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLE +3.5/ATL -3.5
Over/Under Total: 47
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This Sunday in the Dirty South, the Cleveland Browns will invade the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons. At 6-4, Cleveland is 3rd place in the AFC North, while the Falcons sit atop the NFC South at 4-6 overall. Crazy right? I agree. We may see a team below .500 not only make the playoffs, but actually host a game. This is a big game for both teams, Atlanta wants to keep winning and build on their division lead, while Cleveland wants to keep their slim wildcard hopes alive.
This line opens with the Falcons as a 3.5 home favorite and total points are set at 47. Against the spread this season, the Falcons are 4-6 and the Browns are 5-3-2. Cleveland is entering this game with a bad 23-7 loss to the Texans, while the Falcons have won back to back games for the first time this season. The money in Vegas being wagered on this game is pretty even right now, with the Falcons getting 55% of the action.
Atlanta is in first place in the NFC South…with a 4-6 record. There were three teams in the south this season that many people had high on their radar: Saints, Falcons, Panthers. What a mess this season has been. The Falcons are sitting atop the division mainly because all four of their wins have been against division teams. Atlanta is 4-0 versus the NFC South, and 0-6 against everyone else in the NFL. Early in the season, the defense and offensive line was the weak link for the Falcons. Well, the O line is still bad, but the defense has actually improved as of late. The usually high powered offense however, has slowed down tremendously. Matt Ryan is still the 6th ranked passer in the NFL, but the Falcons running game is pretty much non existent. Ranked just 24th in the NFL, Atlanta is not even averaging 100 yards a game. The Falcons historically under coach Mike Smith play well at home, but this year they are 2-2. In order to get the win in the Dome and improve to 5-6, the Falcons need to get the offense rolling again. With weapons like Julio Jones and Roddy White, Atlanta should be able to put up some points. With the slight improvement on defense, if this offense can clicking again, I like Atlanta to win a few more games down the stretch and win the south.
The Cleveland Browns have been a pleasant surprise this season. Even though they are not in position to get a playoff berth, they are not out of it just yet. At 6-4, Cleveland can still win some big games and sneak their way into the post season. A few weeks ago, I would have said that the Browns would come into the dome and make light work of the Falcons, but not I see this being a tough task for Cleveland. The Browns offense is ranked in the top half of the NFL in both passing and rushing yards. The pass defense is also pretty solid ranked 11th in the league. The weak spot for this team is the run defense. Ranked 30th in the NFL, the Browns defense is allowing opponents to gain an average of 142 yards per game. The defense is key for Cleveland in this game. If the Browns can slow down the Falcons offense, they could sneak away with a low scoring win. If they cannot stop Atlanta, it could be a very long day.
As much as I want to take the Falcons in this game, the hook scares me. I think Atlanta should win, but they have been so inconsistent for going on two seasons now, that I just cannot give up 3.5 points with them. Cleveland does a good job against the pass, and not so much against the run. The only problem is, the Falcons do not run the ball well…at all. I think Atlanta wins this game, but I see it coming down to a late field goal.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: PICK THE CLEVELAND BROWNS +3.5 AND UNDER THE TOTAL OF 47 POINTS