Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Point Spread – Pick

Atlanta Falcons (4-6 SU, 3-7 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (9-1 SU, 8-2 ATS)
Week 12 NFL
Date/Time: Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018 at 8:20PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: ATL +13/NO -13
Over/Under Total: 59

The final Thanksgiving Day game of the day features an evening NFC South matchup with the Atlanta Falcons coming to the Superdome to face the first-place New Orleans Saints. This is the second of two straight home games for the Saints, as they look for more separation and maybe even home-field throughout the playoffs. The Falcons are just trying to hang in there in a season that has fallen flat. On Sunday, the Saints kept their foot on the gas with another dominant win. In winning their ninth in a row, they beat the Eagles, 48-7. Atlanta, meanwhile, lost to the Cowboys at home, 22-19. Their margin of error is now down to nothing.

These teams played in week three, with the Saints winning late in overtime, 43-37, in Atlanta. It was a good game with a result that suggests the Falcons match up well with the Saints. And maybe they do. Still, a lot has changed in that time. The Saints are now riding high with a long run of success they carry into this Thanksgiving Day matchup. But things didn’t start off so hot, with the Saints losing to Tampa Bay to open the season, before relying on a lot of breaks to beat the Browns the following week. In struggling to beat the Falcons and with Matt Ryan having a humongous day, the Saints were still finding their bearings and are now in a lot better form. They have covered the spread every game since September 16.

The Saints do a lot of things well. Oldie but goodie Drew Brees is in as fine of form as he’s been in a long time. He has a lot of weapons at his disposal, both aerially and on the ground. They offer a lot of balance and their variety is a strength that they wield on opposing defenses. Their defense is not the best part of their team perhaps, but they still do a lot of things right. The run-defense has been ultra-solid this season. They have the look of a winner and seem poised for some big things this season.

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Brees has really been remarkable and it helps when you have numerous playmakers and a solid line to protect you. The O-line has kept Brees out of peril for the most part, while helping spring the big run-game from Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, who is really starting to come around to speed. It helps when you have two backs who can do that much damage, in addition to being such solid aerial threats. Michael Thomas is a game-changing receiver and one of the best in the conference this season, with a lot of other pass-catchers who can do damage. It’s unfortunate what happened to Dez Bryant, but they have signed Brandon Marshall and maybe he can make an impact. On Sunday, we saw Tre’Quan Smith with a huge game. There’s room for a lot of different players to thrive in this offense.

The New Orleans run-stop has been robust this season. But as we saw in the first game between these teams when Ryan lit up this secondary, it’s an exploitable area. There are some ball-hawks back there with Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, and others, but they are a bit leaky. Still, the front has been tough, with Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins getting after quarterbacks, while Demario Davis has added a lot to the middle. They’re not great perhaps, but they’ve given the offense enough room with which to work and that’s what counts. They’ve also done it against some pretty good offenses, especially against the Rams a few weeks ago.

It’s been hard for the Falcons to overcome a rough 1-4 start, but there have been signs of progress. They’ve been a hard team to figure this season—beating the Panthers and Redskins one week, losing at home to the Bengals and losing to the Browns the next week. Their offense shows up one week and not the next. Their aerial game is still potent and against a Saints’ defense that struggles in that area, there is always daylight for the Falcons in this matchup. But as their home-loss against a sub-.500 Cowboys team showed, they are far from reliable and aren’t reacting well to the urgency.

The Falcons’ offense has a lot of weapons that don’t always manifest. And that’s something this Falcons team needs is an offense that consistently delivers. Injuries haven’t helped, as the absence of Devontae Freeman has rendered their run-game more of an afterthought. Tevin Campbell and Ito Smith have made some plays, but this offense is all about Ryan and his targets, led by still-dominant Julio Jones. In the first game with the Saints this season, Calvin Ridley was huge with 146 yards and three touchdowns. They’re going to need all they can get this week to keep pace with the Saints.

Atlanta’s defense has taken a huge step backwards this season. And in all fairness, it’s hard to stay on-point when dealing with as many injuries as they have. A bulk of their menace is on IR. It has deprived them of much of their pass-rush and overall resistance. They’re not all that strong against the run as Sunday showed with Elliott having a big game, but really suffer aerially, something Brees exploited to obvious affect in their last matchup. It hasn’t gotten any better. They have playmakers, with ball-hawk safety Damontae Kazee (questionable) and pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley, but they’ve been pretty bad all season and this seems like a bizarre spot for that to improve. Last time, in Atlanta by the way, the Saints put up 532 yards.

These are two teams with very different outlooks on things this season heading into week 12. The Saints have been shot from a cannon this season, covering a ton of spreads. Anyone anticipating a letdown has been left grasping for straws. They are not letting up. Still, Atlanta might be better than their record or some results suggest this season. And after a competitive affair the first time around, I see the Falcons doing enough to keep this one respectable, emerging from the Superdome with a cover on Thanksgiving.

Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Atlanta Falcons plus 13 points. Bet the Falcons vs. Saints game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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