NFL Week 16 Picks: Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
Saturday, 12/22/12, 8:30 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Atlanta -3
Current Betting Line:  Atlanta -3.5
Opening Total:  51
Current Total:  50.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Detroit Lions have fallen on hard times during the 2012 season, but wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been a bright spot

Atlanta bounced back from suffering its second loss of the 2012 NFL season, as it picked up an impressive 34-0 win over the New York Giants as one-point home favorites, while going UNDER the total for the fourth time in five contests.  “I think it’s important that you’re playing efficiently and effectively in December and January,” commented Falcons head coach Mike Smith.  The franchise can clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs with a victory in this spot.  Atlanta is 1-3 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points this season, which can’t be ignored when making your pro football picks Sunday.

The Falcons are led offensively by quarterback Matt Ryan, who completed 23-of-28 passes for 270 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions last week.  He ranks second in the league in throwing 17 touchdowns on the road, while pacing all signal-callers with 2,287 passing yards in that situation.  The franchise has won two consecutive games in this series, including a 23-16 victory as 4.5-point road underdogs last year.

Detroit has fallen on hard times in dropping six consecutive games, which includes a 38-10 blowout loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals as six-point road favorites last week, while going OVER the total for the third time in four opportunities.  “You have something to prove every week regardless of winning streak, losing streak, what happened the previous week,” commented Lions coach Jim Schwartz.  Detroit is 4-2 ATS as a home underdog of 3.5 to 7 points since the 2010 campaign, with the OVER going 4-2 in that situation.

The Lions are truly running out of weapons in the passing game for quarterback Matthew Stafford to target, as second-leading receiver Brandon Pettigrew may sit out again this week due to an ankle injury.  Calvin Johnson is trying to break Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record, but he’ll be going against a pair of safeties that have combined for 11 takeaways on the season.

Sports bettors will likely back the Lions due to their 10-6 ATS mark as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points, while the Falcons are 2-3 ATS versus NFC North opponents.

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