By: Jason Green
Atlanta Falcons (9-5 SU 6-8 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (10-4 SU 8-6 ATS)
While the Falcons are one Game back of the Saints and the Panthers in the NFC South they hold their playoff fate in their hands, as they can win the division with beating these teams in their last two Games. Atlanta have won two in a row and both have been close Games and the first one was at home with a win over New Orleans. Matt Ryan has been playing pretty well, but the offense has been nowhere near as dynamic as last season and this season has been led by a defense that ranks tied for 9th in points against.
At 5 dimes sportsbook the Saints are the 5.5-point favorite with a total of 52.5.
The Saints have won two of their last three Games and they are in the same boat as the Falcons, as if they win their last two Games they will take the division title. Drew Brees is having another solid season, but unlike the last two seasons where the team finished 7-9 he is getting help. New Orleans is balanced ranking 3rd in ppg and tied for 9th in points against and the big reason they are back in the playoff picture is the run Game is getting it done ranking 5th in the league in rushing yards per Game.
The underdog has covered the spread in seven of the last eight Games between these NFC South rivals.
In their last Game the Falcons were on the road and they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-21. Atlanta did not have many more yards (410-373), but they forced the Game’s only turnover and they rushed for 201 yards while holding Tampa Bay to 84 yards on the ground. Ryan passed for 212 yards with a TD and no picks and his main target in the Game in Devonta Freeman was the big star on offense. He led the team with 68 receiving yards and he also rushed for 126 yards and a TD averaging a more than legit 5.6 yards per carry. Ryan tossed three picks in the recent win over the Saints and Atlanta won with a Game-saving INT in the end zone.
The Saints rank 7th in the league in pass defense and 18th in run defense and Freeman went for 91 yards in the first match up with the Saints and if Ryan does not have to carry them with his arm and Freeman can move the chains with his legs Atlanta will be tough to beat.
The Saints were at home in their last Game and they beat the New York Jets 31-19. New Orleans outscored the Jets 14-6 in the 4th quarter and for the Game they racked up 412 yards with three turnovers forcing two and with New York having 294 yards. Brees passed for 281 yards with two TD and one pick and Michael Thomas hauled in 93 receiving yards. Mark Ingram was the 2nd leading target with 77 receiving yards and he and Alvin Kamara combined for 118 rushing yards. This is the first RB duo in over 40 years to make the Pro Bowl in the same season for the same team. They will be up against an Atlanta defense that ranks 12th in the league against the pass and 9th against the run.
The Falcons are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road Games, 6-2 ATS in their last 8 road Games vs. a team with a winning home record, and in their last 11 Games they have an Under record of 8-3.
The Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Games overall, 22-4 ATS in their last 26 home Games vs. a team with a winning road record, and in their last 21 home Games they have an Over record of 15-5-1.
Jason’s Pick: For some reason I think Ryan will be the Ryan of last season and have a big Game. On top of that the Atlanta D will play well. They will definitely cover the spread in what will be a close Game, but they will also get the W as well.