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Thursday Night Football Predictions: Saints-Falcons Division Showdown


The Saints are marching into the playoffs and the Falcons though better than many teams in the current playoffs picture, they are going to need some help from the rest of the league to chase down that Wildcard spot. This only gets tougher after getting sacked by the Vikings, thanks to the Seahawks beating the NFC-best Philadelphia Eagles 24-10, it will be a tough road to the post-season.

The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons will be playing on short rest and this will be back to back division matchups as the Drew Brees and the Saints took down their other division rivals, the Carolina Panthers 31-21 on Sunday afternoon.

Only the Vikings have held the dynamic New Orleans offense to less than 20 points, and that was in Week 1 before Brees and crew found the rhythm in their stride. You might already be mouthing the words, “But they lost in Week 12 to the Rams!” And you are correct, but they still put up 20 points and they were on an eight-game win streak; it had to end at some point.

Tale of the Tape (condensed)

The Atlanta Falcons are holding teams to 20.33 points per game overall and have been particularly stout defensively at home (just 17.83 ppg). The Saints have been dropping 29.42 points on average against their opponents this campaign and even on the road average near four touchdowns scoring 27.67 on the highway.

Matty Ice and crew are averaging 22.83 across the board this season and just a smidgen more, 23.00 at home. Dennis Allen’s Saints ‘D’ is only allowing 20.25 this season, but the New Orleans defense gets fired up on the road, holding opponents to just 15.83 points.

Prior to the outcomes of this Sunday’s (Week 13) games, one of the two predictive power rankings I like to use has the Saints at #1. The other has the Saints at #4 in the League. Interestingly enough, both have the Falcons at #10 … and after the Falcons loss at the hands of SKÖL and the Saints powerful offensive showcase against the Panthers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the algorithms throw a bit more shade towards Atlanta when the new ratings get released.

But it should be noted that in true division rival fashion, these two teams have evenly split the last 10 games against each-other. Not just in wins/losses either, but against the spread as well. Late season division games when both teams have something to play for are always a crap-shot!

Trends to Factor in

· The Saints are a Perfect 3-0 in Division play this season on both outright wins and against the point-spread.

· The Falcons are 1-1 straight up and just 50% against the points as well.

· The Falcons are 1-3 (25%) after a loss in 2017, while the Saints are 6-2 (75%) after a win.

· The Saints are 3-2 on the road (60%).

· The Atlanta Falcons are 3-3 as the home team (50%).

· The Saints have won 4 of their last 5 road games

Assessing The matchup

So far, the Falcons are laying 1.5 points in Vegas and at most online outlets, making them the slight favorites. But while handicapping this game, I find that the Saints should initially be around 6.5-point favorites, then minus the field goal that is given for home-field advantage, the line should favor New Orleans by 3.5 points. So, we’ll have to keep an eye on the best sportsbooks and check the BetOnline review to see if this line moves the way I think it will.

Prediction: New Orleans 23-17


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

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