Week 13 NFL Picks: New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
Last Thursday's Colts at Texans game showed why alternate lines can be a very good thing. Houston was a 3.5-point favorite at 5Dimes when that preview published last Tuesday here at Doc's. However, we recommended Texans at -2.5 on the alternate line - while also going "under" the total of 45.5. Liked a final score of Houston 23, Indianapolis 20. Pretty close to dead on, too, as the Texans beat the Colts 20-17 to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South. More important (for us, anyway), we hit on both of our bets.
Of course, this Thursday is Thanksgiving, and per usual we get three games on the holiday. Detroit is the annual host in the early window and Dallas always the host in the mid-afternoon game. In 2006 as a way to boost viewership on the relatively new NFL Network, the league added a prime-time game on the holiday but without a permanent host - every owner in the league wants their team to play on the holiday because it's the marquee day of the regular season just like Christmas is for the NBA. I'm sure the players don't like playing on Thanksgiving, but too bad for them.
The prime-time game this year is the same as it was in 2018: Saints-Falcons , only this time in Atlanta instead of the Big Easy. New Orleans won 31-17 last year behind four touchdown passes from Drew Brees. Matt Ryan threw for 377 and two scores, but the Falcons couldn't run the ball at all.
This is the second time Atlanta hosts a Turkey Day game - it lost to the Colts in 2007.
Saints at Falcons Betting Story Lines
New Orleans essentially won the NFC South Division on Sunday with a 34-31 win over the visiting and second-place Carolina Panthers. At 9-2, the Saints now have a four-game lead over the Panthers and thus could officially seal the deal this week with a win and Panthers loss at home to the Redskins (doubtful).
The Saints can't exactly let up now as they are trying to catch San Francisco for the NFC's top seed. The Saints' chances of getting a first-round bye overall were helped by the Packers' loss Sunday night at the 49ers. New Orleans hosts San Francisco in the marquee matchup of Week 14.
Will Lutz kicked the winning 33-yard field goal as time expired on Sunday to beat Carolina. The series before that, Panthers kicker Joey Slye missed a chip-shot 28-yard field goal. Brees threw for 311 yards and three scores, while Michael Thomas continued his huge season with 10 catches for 101 yards and a score. He could break Marvin Harrison's NFL single-season record of 143 catches. Thomas is the fourth player in league history with at least eight receptions and 100 receiving yards in five consecutive games in a single season.
Will New Orleans get back top cornerback Marshon Lattimore for this one? He sat Sunday with a hamstring injury. Left tackle Terron Armstead left with a high-ankle sprain, so he's out a while.
The Falcons' modest two-game winning streak ended in a 35-22 home loss to Tampa Bay. Matt Ryan hasn't looked great lately partly because he's playing hurt, and he didn't throw a TD pass while being picked off and losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. He was sacked six times -- the Falcons have lost all four games this season when Ryan has been sacked four or more times.
Without top running back Devonta Freeman (foot), the Falcons had just 57 yards rushing. Not likely Freeman returns on a short week. No. 1 tight end Austin Hooper also sat with a knee injury and he's probably not playing Thursday, either. Star wideout Julio Jones appeared to injure his right shoulder before halftime but returned to action in the second half. The loss officially eliminated the Falcons from the NFC South race and dropped them to 1-4 at home.
Saints at Falcons Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, New Orleans is a 7-point favorite (+100) with a total of 49. On the moneyline, the Saints are -290 and Falcons +245. On some alternate lines, the Saints are -7.5 (+120), -6.5 (-120), -10.5 (+172) and -3.5 (-160). New Orleans is 4-1 against the spread on the road and 3-2 "over/under." Atlanta is 2-3 ATS at home and 1-4 O/U.
The Saints are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a losing record. They are 2-6 ATS in their previous eight following an ATS loss. The Falcons have covered four straight vs. teams with a winning record and are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 on Thursday. The under is 9-2 in New Orleans' past 11 vs. teams with a losing record and 6-0 in Atlanta's previous six at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The underdog is 9-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five.
Saints at Falcons Betting Prediction
One of the biggest upsets really in modern NFL history was Week 10 when the Falcons were 1-7, on a six-game skid and 14-point dogs to the 7-1 Saints, who were on a six-game winning streak. Atlanta won 26-9. Ryan threw for two scores and the Falcons had 143 yards on the ground. Brees didn't throw for a score and the Saints totaled 52 yards on the ground. Thomas had 13 catches for 152.
Thanks to that win, the Falcons shouldn't lack confidence in this rivalry game. I'll take the 7.5 points on the alternate line and go under. New Orleans wins something like 27-21.
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