Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints – Week 18 NFL Pick

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In a big NFC South matchup in the season finale the Saints host the Falcons and each needs to win and get help to make the playoffs.

The oddsmakers have the Saints as a 3-point favorite with a total of 42.5. The public has been backing the Falcons, as they opened as a 4-point underdog and as of Thursday are a 3-point dog.

The Falcons (7-9) suffered a bad loss in their last game in a 37-17 road loss to the Chicago Bears. Atlanta failed to cover as a 2.5-point underdog and they have not covered in three of their last four games.

The Saints (8-8) got a big win in their last game in beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road 23-13. They covered as a 2.5-point underdog and have covered the spread in three of their last four games.

Earlier this season in Atlanta the Falcons beat the Saints 24-15.

On the season the Falcons are 5-11 ATS with an O/U record of 6-10 and the Saints are 5-10-1 ATS with an O/U record of 5-11.

Few Scenarios

The Saints can capture the NFC South title with a win and a Buccaneers loss or make the playoffs with a win and a loss by the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

In their bad 37-17 loss to the Bears, they were outgained 432 yards to 307 yards and committed four turnovers while not forcing any. Taylor Heinicke had a game to forget going 10-29 for 163 yards with a TD and three INT, Bijan Robinson rushed for 75 yards, and Tyler Allgeier had 75 receiving yards and a score.

On the season the Falcons only rank 26th in scoring (19 ppg) and 22nd in passing yards per game but a legit eighth in rushing yards per game.

Atlanta has had issues at the QB position and Heinicke was injured in the last game and questionable and if he cannot Desmond Ridder will get the call. Robinson (948 yards 4 TD) is on the cusp of a 1,000-yard season as a rookie, has 147 yards in the last two games, and also ranks fourth on the Falcons in receiving yards (384 yards 3 TD).

The Falcons will be facing a New Orleans’ defense that ranks sixth in the league in points against (19.4 ppg), 12th in passing yards per game, and 21st in rushing yards per game.

Defense Comes Up Big

In the last game in the big win over the Bucs to keep their playoff hopes alive the Saints’ defense came up big. They gave up 310 yards, while gaining 349, held Tampa to 59 rushing yards and forced four turnovers and did not commit any.

In the win over the Bucs Derek Carr passed for 197 yards with two TD and no INT, Jamaal Williams and Alvin Kamara combined for 93 rushing yards, and Juwan Johnson had 90 receiving yards and a score.

Carr (3,614 yards 21 TD 8 INT) has had an up and down first season in the Big Easy and while only ranking 18th in QBR he has eight TD and only one pick over the last three games. Lead WR Chris Olave (1,067 yards 4 TD) only had 26 yards in the last game where he was banged up and listed as questionable to face the Falcons.

Betting Trends

The Falcons are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.

The Falcons are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games.

The Falcons have an Under record of 9-3 in their last 12 road games.

The Saints are 2-7 ATS in their last nine home games.

The Saints are 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 games as a favorite.

The Saints have an Under record of 7-2 in their last nine home games.

Here’s the way our model sees the game. The 1st prediction uses full season data, the 2nd uses the last 4 games and the 3rd uses the last 7.  

Atlanta                   41.5          14           
New Orleans               -3.5          21
  
Atlanta                   41.5           9           
New Orleans               -3.5          23
  
Atlanta                   41.5          14           
New Orleans               -3.5          22