The Week 13 edition of Thursday Night Football promises to bring high-octane action as the New Orleans Saints travel to the Georgia Dome to take on the powerful Atlanta Falcons in an all-NFC South clash. These two teams were expected to duke it out to the bitter end for the divisional crown, but the Saints lethargic start has left their post-season hopes very slim.
New Orleans was dealt a raw deal with the ramifications of ’bounty-gate’ but they haven’t dealt with their on-field performance all that well in 2012. Their defense is simply awful this year, giving up yards and points at all-time embarrassing rates, and that unit has shown minimal signs of improving. New Orleans is coming off a particularly disappointing loss last week at home to San Francisco, one that may have sapped a lot of momentum from this desperate side. They’ve got a tough schedule upcoming, and if they are to make a late push for the playoffs, this is essentially a must-win game for them.
On the Falcons side, Atlanta seems to have got their groove back after an impressive and hard-fought road victory over the Bucs last week. Matt Ryan bounced back admirably from a poor Week 11 showing, and should be able to carry that momentum against a pathetic Saints’ secondary. Atlanta has pretty much wrapped up the NFC South crown, but you can bet they’re also gunning for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they’re to attain that feat, they can’t take their foot off the pedal just yet. Beating the Saints could both put the final nail in the coffin of their hated rivals, and vault Atlanta to the #1 overall seed position in the NFC. Three weeks ago it was these Saints who ended Atlanta’s bid for a perfect season, and you can bet the Falcons remember that loss. Expect revenge to be sought after come Thursday night.
Saints vs. Falcons Betting Odds:
New Orleans Saints +3.5 (-110)
@ Atlanta Falcons -3.5 (-110)
Over 55.5 (-110)
Under 55.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Saints vs. Falcons Pick:
The Saints enter this contest having won 11 of their past 13 meetings against Atlanta. And though they’ve been simply brutal this season and one of the NFL’s most disappointing groups, that remains a difficult stat to ignore. On the other hand, you have one of the premier teams in the league in Atlanta, playing at home against a hated rival. Those factors alone make this game a true coin-flip. New Orleans seems to have the Falcons’ number, but their awful defense prevents us from siding with them.
Instead the logic seems to shift us toward an offensive slugfest on Thursday night. This game features two of the most prolific attacks in the league, and two of the more porous defenses. A simple recipe for a ton of points, and cash for over bettors. Though 55.5 points is a big number, both offense are capable of shredding the opposing defense.
The Saints have one of the worst defenses in NFL history right now. That point cannot be emphasized enough. They cannot stop the run, the pass, or rush the quarterback, so expect a motivated Falcons’ squad with a plethora of weapons to do some damage for their hometown fans. Atlanta is starting to utilize the versatile Jacquizz Rodgers in more sets on offense, and his skill has added a new dimension to their attack. Look for the Saints to have great difficulty stopping Rodgers.
On the other hand, the Falcons of late have really struggled on defense as well. All year they’ve stunk at defending the run, and their injuries have severely decimated their secondary. Key cornerback Asante Samuel may have to sit out on this short week after re-aggravating a shoulder injury on Sunday. That would be a key loss against a motivated Drew Brees and his talented array of targets. Atlanta struggles at getting to the quarterback, and giving Brees time and space is a disastrous combination. Add in the fact that the Saints are deadly in the red-zone, and New Orleans will hold their own come Thursday evening.
Expect both sides to have absolutely zero difficulty in moving the chains. This will be a true shootout, and you’ll likely get the feeling that whoever gets the ball last, will end up winning this game. Expect a close affair, with two prolific attacks slugging it out for 60 minutes. Buckle up on Thursday night, because points are on tap from the Georgia Dome!
PICK = Over 55.5 (-110)