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New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons Point Spread - Pick

New Orleans Saints (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS)
Week 14 NFL
Date/Time: Thursday Night Football, December 7, 2017 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Betting Odds: NO pk/ATL pk
Over/Under Total: 53.5

The New Orleans Saints come to Georgia to face the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC South battle with high stakes. The Falcons did well to climb back into things, but saw their progress stalled on Sunday in a 14-9 home loss to the Vikings. They hung in there well, but struggled against one of the conference's frontrunners, particularly against the Vikings' "D." They look to make amends this week against another contender in a Saints team that moved to 9-3 on Sunday with a 31-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. This is the first meeting between these divisional teams this season.

A lot of teams are losing to the red-hot Vikings, so perhaps one shouldn't be so hard on the Falcons. While they did well to win three straight and right the ship, they are now bound by the fact that falling to 7-6 this week would put a major crimp into their plans on defending as conference champions. The division would be out of reach and they'd be relegated to fighting for a spot in what is already shaping to be a congested wild-card race. After getting the offense cooking, they hit a wall on Sunday. Even if it was against Minnesota, putting up three field goals at home is a letdown. Their defense performed capably overall, allowing just two Minnesota scores. This week, they face a different kind of matchup.

The Atlanta offense had started looking like its old self for a few weeks, but they fell flat on Sunday. That's been common of a lot of offenses the Vikings have played this season. They converted one out of ten third down attempts on Sunday. But other than that, the Falcons didn't turn the ball over and Matt Ryan wasn't sacked on the day. They just ran into a stout and balanced "D" that had them in knots the whole game. Returning Devonta Freeman had some nice runs, but the offense was subdued. Ryan threw for just 173 yards and no scores. Julio Jones was quiet with 2 catches for 24 yards. And it's not like the Vikings were able to flourish on offense, but they were able to get into the end zone, which the Falcons were unable to do on Sunday.

The Falcons' defense again played capably on Sunday. It's not often in recent seasons that the defense has been let down by the offense, but that has been the case several times in 2017. To allow just 14 points at home should be enough. Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, and Deion Jones were very active on the day. Grady Jarrett and Takkarist McKinley both registered sacks. Vic Beasley was getting after it and is getting closer to peak form after being derailed by injuries. All told, this side of the ball has subtly, but significantly upgraded their level of play over the past month or so, though they will be tested this week in their third straight home game—a must-win spot for the Falcons.

The Saints were able to shake off a defeat the previous week to the Rams with the nice ten-point win over the Panthers on Sunday at home. After having to pull a rabbit out of the hat against the Redskins and losing to the Rams, Sunday was a needed development to keep the Saints pointed forward in a competitive top of the NFC. They got a more-typical performance on offense, with enough big stops and timely plays on defense to win comfortably.

New Orleans got a good game from most of their key pieces on Sunday. Drew Brees was 25-for-34 for 269 yards and a TD. He connected with Michael Thomas for 70 yards and a touchdown. But their top two running backs were the major players in Sunday's win. Alvin Kamara continues to be electric in his rookie season, running for two more touchdowns on Sunday, while adding 66 yards receiving. RB Mark Ingram also ran for a score on 85 yards rushing, while catching six balls. This is an offense that can get you in any number of different ways.

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The New Orleans defense has been a lot better this season, really coming around after a rough start to the season. After an iffy showing against the Rams, they got back on the right track on Sunday. Holding the Panthers to a single score in the second-half was a key part of the win. They held Cam Newton to 183 yards through the air. And some timely plays really tilted things in their favor, including a fumble on special teams. AJ Klein and Kenny Vaccaro both had sacks on Sunday. CB PJ Williams also made a lot of big plays on the day, with Saints sack-leader Cameron Jordan getting after it, as well. After a period of being really robust, the New Orleans' defense had been shaky the past few weeks and Sunday was a little better.

The Saints might have their hands full on the road this week. Atlanta is likely to be extra-urgent to get back on the winning track as another loss puts them behind the eight-ball as far as their postseason hopes are concerned. And with the Saints' defense having perhaps taken a step back the past several weeks, maybe Atlanta can make some things happen this week at home, their third straight in this building. I just see a hard-played game with the Saints able to nose it out. I'm taking New Orleans.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New Orleans Saints in a pick-'em. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and placing a bet on the Thursday Night Football game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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