New Orleans Saints (6-9 SU, 7-7-1 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (8-7 SU, 6-9 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday, January 3, 1:00pm
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, GA
by Bob, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NOR +4 / ATL -4
Over/Under Total: 52.5
This Sunday the NFL regular season will come to an end. In Atlanta, there is a contest between two teams that are normally battling for a playoff spot, but coming into this game, both teams have officially been eliminated from the playoff picture. The New Orleans Saints will head into the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons. Seeing as how both teams are out, neither has anything to lose. This is a very heated NFC South rivalry game that I promise you both teams want to win, just for pure bragging rights alone. Earlier in the season, the Saints ended the Falcons perfect start to the season. Atlanta went into New Orleans at 5-0 and left with a 31-21 loss in a game that saw the Falcons turn the ball over five timesyep, FIVE TIMES. Three times on New Orleans side of the field. Thatll kill you every time.
The line opened with the Falcons as a four point home favorite over the Saints. A lot of love is being given to the Falcons this week since they ended the Carolina Panthers dreams of a 16-0 season last Sunday with a 20-13 win in the Georgia Dome. Not only did the bookmakers give the Falcons some love, but the public is high on them too. As of Tuesday morning, 64% of the betting action is on the Falcons. If this continues, this line could move up to 5-5.5 points, but I think eventually, the Saints will start getting some action before that can happen. Vegas is also liking a pretty good scoring game with the total points set at 52.5 combined. As a life long Falcons fan, and watching this team every week all season, that number seems a tad high for me, but what do I know? I have been horrible at capping Falcons games all season.
As for the Falcons, there is good news and bad news for this 2015 season. A win over New Orleans and the Dan Quinn Era will begin with the Falcons first winning season in three years, however, Atlanta is only the third team in NFL history to start a season 5-0 and not make the playoffs. One more win, just one more win, would have the birds in the wildcard and playing on into January. And like the New York Giants have shown a few times, just get in the playoffs and anything can happen. Atlanta suffered mind numbing losses to a bad San Francisco team as well as Indianapolis at home. Of the Falcons seven losses, they had the lead or was tied in the fourth quarter in five of those games. Just win one! Anyhow, the attitude Dan Quinn has instilled in this team is a positive one and I do have faith that he is building a foundation that in the next couple of years we will see payoff. Atlanta opens a new state of the art stadium in 2017 and the goal is by then to be a contender. I believe there is a good chance of that being the case. On the negative side, I think owner Arthur Blank has some serious decisions to make in the next few weeks. General Manager Thomas Dimitroff has proven over the last three years that he is not the man to build a champion. He misses on draft picks, does absolutely nothing to bring in veteran free agents, and in three years has done nothing to repair an offensive line that could someday be the cause of Matt Ryans death. I have a feeling Blank & Company are going to make some major moves in the next monthand they are needed moves. Okay, not onto this game. Atlanta looked GOOD last week against Carolina. Many say, well Carolina already clinched a playoff spot, they didnt care about that game. Well, quite the opposite. Carolina has yet to clinch the top seed in the NFC. An Arizona win in week 17 and a Carolina loss means that Arizona will be the conferences top team and Carolina would potentially have to travel west if the NFC Title Game came down to the Panthers and Cardinals. Carolina gave it all they had and Atlanta was just better that day. Matt Ryan had the best game of the season, Devonta Freeman played like the Pro Bowler he is, and the defense held their own against the leagues top scoring offense, holding them to just 13 points after allowing a ho-hum easy opening drive. If Atlanta can come out and play with the same intensity against the Saints, I can easily see Atlanta covering and finishing 2015 at 9-7.
The New Orleans Saints have been a disappointment this season, but I called it two years ago saying that the Saints got their Super Bowl and now the window was closing on them getting another. Drew Brees isnt getting any younger, due to cap issues, the Saints had to release or let some top players just walk. The team is nearing rebuilding mode and that is not necessarily a bad thing, it happens. The Saints have been a roller coaster of a team this season though. They took down the 5-0 Falcons and also played Carolina very tough in the Superdome, but then they have losses to the Eagles, Titans, and Colts. To be honest, this Saints team is much like the Falcons: You never know which team will show up. One thing that remained positive for the Saints is their offense. Brees is throwing for over 300 yards a game and the offense is still in the top ten in the NFL in scoring at 25.9 per game. The defense however, yikes. They have allowed 31, 39, 49, 47, and 41 points. That is not going to win you games, although the 49 points they allowed to the Giants ended up being a 52-49 win for New Orleans. However, if they allow the Falcons to score in the 30s, I have enough faith in the energized Falcons defense to be able to keep the Saints in check, at least enough to cover the four points and win the game.
I picked Atlanta to upset the Eagles in week one and I was right, I think since that time, I have capped four or five other Falcons games. I have to go back and look but I am not sure if I have picked another game correctly. If I pick them to win or cover, they lose 38-0. If I pick them to lose, they win. I am a horrible capper with the team that I know better than any other. Let me take a moment to fade myself. I want to take the Saints to cover the four. I have a feeling the Saints win an ugly 23-20 type game. So, for that, I am taking the Atlanta Falcons in blowout fashion. The Falcons will beat the Saints 27-17 and finish the season 9-7!
Bobs Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE THE ATLANTA FALCONS -4
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