After a solid showing in Week 13, we are back with the early edition of game action for some Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 14. And though typically these TNF games have been duds for the most part, I am certain this all-NFC South divisional showdown won’t disappoint this evening. It’s a pivotal clash between two bitter rivals battling for playoff spots, as Drew Brees brings his Saints into the rowdy Mercedes-Benz Stadium to do battle with the Atlanta Falcons.
Last week, the Falcons lost a nail-biter at home to the Minnesota Vikings. That Minnesota defense continued to be stifling, but it is basically now or never for the Falcons and their leader Matt Ryan. Atlanta sits at a 7-5 record and their margin for error is slim going forward. This should be seen as a must-win for last year’s Super Bowl finalists.
On the other side are the surprising Saints, who enter with a 9-3 mark. Last week New Orleans throttled the Carolina Panthers at home, and are keen on challenging the Vikings at the top of the NFC. Nobody really foresaw this type of season from New Orleans, especially from their solid defensive unit. You can bet they’ll have their hands full with a prolific Falcons’ attack on Thursday.
This is why we love football. It’s late in the season, everything is on the line, and these two divisional rivals will face-off with their seasons on the line. With the talent on both sides, expect a thrilling, back-and-forth contest. As always, your Week 14 betting needs are covered here at The Sports Geek, so read on below the odds for a game breakdown and analysis for this huge Saints/Falcons matchup.
Saints vs. Falcons Betting Odds:
New Orleans Saints +2.5 (-110)
@ Atlanta Falcons -2.5 (-110)
Over 51.5 (-110)
Under 51.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Saints vs. Falcons Pick:
The Falcons’ offense was not very effective against the Minnesota Vikings’ defense on Sunday, but that can be understandable. Xavier Rhodes is quite the blanket, and effectively locked down Julio Jones. This week, it will still be tough for Jones to get free, but he’ll be matched up against a banged-up Marshon Lattimore. The young rookie has been very solid for the Saints this season, though you get the sense that he’s rushing back for this game on Thursday night. It will be interesting to track this matchup.
Where I can really see the Falcons having success is via some short throws from Matt Ryan to his duo of talented pass-catching running backs. Both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are exceptional at catching passes emerging from the backfield and should be able to wreak havoc on the Saints’ weak linebacking corps. This should put Atlanta in short yardage situations and help them to continually move the chains. Their offense has another gear and in a do-or-die situation tonight, I’ve thinking they find it.
For the Saints, expect them to have their hands full blocking a pretty ferocious Atlanta Falcons’ pass rush. Adrian Clayborn and Grady Jarrett have dominated the line of scrimmage many times this year, and I’d expect a lot of pressure directed toward Drew Brees tonight. It will also help the Falcons that their top cornerbacks in Desmond Trufant and Brian Poole will be returning to action for this big game after missing Week 13.
All that said, the Falcons still need to find a way to limit the beastly Alvin Kamara. The youngster has taken the league by storm of late, and his powerful and elusive running can create issues for any defense. For Atlanta, it is a great thing that their run defense is very solid, and they’ve yet to be dominated by an opposing rusher. Look for them to hone in on Kamara and limit him early, and force New Orleans to take things to the air. Easier said than done, but I like Atlanta’s chances on what promises to be a rowdy home field.
Atlanta must-win this game because if they do not, they’ll be in a huge hole for an eventual Wild-Card spot come January. The Saints will give them all they can handle but there’s still a bit of an overrated element to New Orleans – especially with their defense. Marshon Lattimore is not 100 percent, and going with the desperation angle, I see the Falcons doing just enough to get the win and cover. This should be a classic.
PICK = Falcons -2.5 (-110)