The Thursday Night NFL contest will see a rivalry matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. The game is scheduled for an 8:20 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on the NFL Network. Currently the odds for the game have Falcons favored by 3.5 points.
The Atlanta Falcons were 8-0 a few weeks back but stumbled out of New Orleans with their first loss of the season. The revenge factor here is beyond obvious in this contest tonight. New Orleans is traveling on a short week after a beatdown loss at home by San Francisco. It's been well documented that the Saints defense is about as bad as any in the NFL's history and so far this year opponents are averaging 28 points per game against the Saints. Yikes.
Tonight it won't get any easier. We all know just how good Matt Ryan is when playing at home and the Falcons can take a huge step forward to earning home field advantage in the playoffs with a win in this game. That would propel them to their 11th win on the year which is easily the most in the NFC right now. Ryan likes throwing to All-Pro receiver Julio Jones. When he's in the lineup and not nursing an injury the Ryan/Jones combo is one of the best in football. They hooked up for a crucial TD in last week's win on the road at Tampa Bay. Oh and don't forget about big time targets Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. The Falcons could score a lot of points in this game, as they're one of the best passing teams in all of football.
The Falcons can clinch the NFC South division title with a victory and a Tampa Bay loss or tie at Denver on Sunday.
New Orleans comes in with a 5-6 record overall and they are in some serious trouble. No coach, obviously, and their defense just flat out sucks. Drew Brees said that the margin for his club is really small right now and there's a very real possibility that they don't make the playoffs. Imagine that for a bit — a loss in this game tonight would put the Saints in an almost impossible spot to make the playoffs.
To make matters worse, the offensive line is all kinds of banged up. Sure, they'll be indoors, which helps them stay acclimated to playing like they are in the Superdome, but we don't see how they win this game with all of their problems. We still think playing in that late game last week, getting smoked, and then having to fly for the Thursday night game will take its toll on the Saints.
In Thursday night games this season, the home team has won seven of the last 10 games. New Orleans has beaten Atlanta 11 of the last 13 meetings overall.
Tight end Jimmy Graham is going to be targeted a bunch in this game and Marques Colston will certainly be on the minds of the Falcons defense. Expect the Saints to be able to move the football, but don't expect them to do it very well on the ground. Atlanta does give up quite a bit of yards on the ground, but New Orleans doesn't really run it enough to scare anybody. In fact, these two teams are both in the bottom five in the NFL in rushing. It should come as no surprise then that we feel the team that runs the ball better wins the game. We'll take the Falcons at home in this one, as they all but wrap up the NFC South.
Free Pick: Atlanta 31, New Orleans 21
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