Thursday, November 29, 2012

Betting the NFL Special Thursday edition: Saints the pick

My "Betting the NFL" column always runs on Sunday and as a result Thursday games aren't usually included.
But since many people have been asking me who I like tonight in the New Orleans at Atlanta game, here we go with a special Thursday blog edition of Betting the NFL...
To me, this looks like one of the locks of the week with the New Orleans Saints' getting 3.5 to 4 points. The game will be close but the Saints' backs are against the wall when it comes to making the playoffs. At 5-6 they have to win out in their last five games to have a shot and I think that run begins tonight.
The Saints' playoff hopes got a bit derailed in Week 12 with a loss to San Francisco. But I see New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees coming through in a game I see as a lower scoring game than most people expect.
The stats are certainly in New Orleans' favor.
Brees loves playing against Atlanta where he's had 300 yards and multiple TDs in four of the last five games. Earlier this season in New Orleans the Saints handed the Falcons their only loss of the season with a 31-27 victory. The Saints have won 11 of the last 13 games against Atlanta including seven of the last eight. In Atlanta's last six home games against New Orleans the Falcons are 2-4 against the spread and 1-5 straight up.
From a fantasy perspective just about every offensive player from both teams should produce decent stats for team owners.
From an on-field perspective I see a close finish with the under a good play. In the last three matchups at Atlanta, the Saints won all three times by a field goal with a combined 49 points in two games (identical 26-23 scores in 2009, 2011) and 31 in one game (17-14 in 2010). The over-under today is 56 so I see the under looking good here.
You can see the complete series record and game-by-game results between the two teams at this link -
While Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons will also be putting up points against a weak Saints defense, I think Brees as usual carries the team and hurls that final TD pass for the win.
Prediction: Saints 27-24.

BY THE WAY, check last Sunday's Betting the NFL column to see how I fared....Giants, Jaguars and Dolphins were among my top plays of the week ....