Thursday Night Football Betting Picks: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Thursday, October 15, 2015, 8:25 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Network
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
Opening Line: Atlanta -2 1/2
Current Line: Atlanta -3 (-120)
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 51
Opening Money Line: Falcons -170 / Saints +150
Current Money Line: Falcons -170 / Saints +150

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Atlanta is a 3 point road favorite at New Orleans Thursday night.

The 5-0 Atlanta Falcons and 1-4 New Orleans Saints renew their rivalry Thursday in New Orleans. Atlanta leads the NFC South by a half game over the 4-0 Carolina Panthers who were on their bye last week. Amazingly, six teams are still undefeated after five weeks of the season. New Orleans is in last place in the division behind the 2-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Atlanta leads the series against New Orleans 49-43. The Falcons swept the series last year, winning 37-34 in overtime in Atlanta and 30-14 in New Orleans. The teams will close out the regular season January 3 in Atlanta.

Atlanta is coached by Dan Quinn. The Falcons swept the NFC East for four of their five wins. Atlanta has home wins over the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24, Houston Texans 48-21 and last week 25-19 in overtime against the Washington Redskins. The Falcons also have road wins at the New York Giants 24-20 and Dallas Cowboys 39-28. Atlanta was a 7.5 point favorite against Washington and the total was 48.5. Washington took a 7-3 lead into halftime. The Falcons would add a field goal in the third quarter to trail 7-6 going into the fourth.

Atlanta took a 12-7 lead when Julio Jones recovered an offensive fumble in the end zone. The Falcons missed the two point conversion. Washington scored just over a minute later but also missed a two point conversion to make the score 13-12. The Redskins added a field goal with 2:38 left to expand the lead to 16-12. The Falcons drove down the field and scored with 24 seconds left on a six yard touchdown run from Devonta Freeman. Washington made it to the Atlanta 34 and kicked the game tying 52 yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime 19-19. Atlanta ended it with a 59 yard pick six in overtime. The game was sloppy as both teams combined for 5 turnovers and 3 missed field goals. Atlanta outgained Washington 418 yards to 270. The Falcons are 4-1 ATS this season and the total is 2-3.

New Orleans is coached by Sean Payton. The Saints have a home win over the Cowboys 26-20 in overtime. New Orleans has a home loss against the Buccaneers 26-19, plus road losses at the Arizona Cardinals 31-19, Panthers 27-22 and last week against the Eagles 39-17. New Orleans was a 6.5 point underdog at Philadelphia and the total was 49.5. New Orleans scored first to take a 7-0 lead, but Philadelphia would take a 10-7 lead into halftime. The Saints tied it up early in the third with a field goal. The Eagles would score 29 unanswered points to take a 39-10 lead. The Saints scored a touchdown on the last play of the game that made over bettors very happy. The teams combined for six turnovers, including four by the Saints. Philadelphia racked up 519 total yards and 34 first downs to 388 and 19 for New Orleans. The Saints are 2-3 ATS and the total is 3-2 this season.

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Atlanta is outscoring teams 32-22 this season. Atlanta is #3 in scoring. The Falcons average 406 yards per game on offense, including 280 passing and 126 rushing yards. Atlanta is in the top ten in all three categories. On defense, the Falcons are allowing 366 total yards per game including 288 passing and 78 rushing yards per game. Atlanta is #20 in total defense and #29 in pass defense. The Falcons are #1 in rush defense. Atlanta is 43/80 on third and fourth down conversions. Opponents are 27/68 on third and fourth down conversions. The Falcons have forced 6 sacks and allowed 9 this season. The Falcons are +5 in turnovers. The Falcons have four defensive touchdowns this season.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 64.9% of his passes for 1,456 yards with 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and also has 42 rushing yards. Running back Devonta Freeman has 93 carries for 405 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 24 catches for 240 yards. Tevin Coleman is out until mid-October with broken ribs has 31 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown.  Terron Ward has 19 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown, along with 2 catches for 27 yards.

Receiver Julio Jones has 43 catches for 545 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is probable with a hamstring injury and also has turf toe. Leonard Hankerson has 18 catches for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with injured ribs Tight end Jacob Tamme has 16 catches for 198 yards.  Roddy White has 8 catches for 115 yards. Devin Hester is out until early December with a toe injury. Linebacker Justin Durant is questionable with an elbow injury.

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New Orleans is being outscored 29-21 this season. The Saints #30 in points allowed and #21 in scoring. The Saints average 387 total yards per game including 302 passing and 85 rushing yards per game. New Orleans is #7 or better in total and passing offense, but #29 in rushing. On defense, the Saints are allowing 402 yards per game including 273 passing and 136 rushing. The Saints are #23 or worse in all three categories including dead last in total defense. New Orleans is 39/78 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 24/62. The Saints have forced 7 sacks and allowed 15 this season. New Orleans is -5 in turnovers.

Quarterback Drew Brees has completed 66.5% of his passes for 1,304 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Brees has been battling a shoulder injury and missed the Carolina game a couple of weeks ago. Luke McCown started that game and threw for 310 yards with an interception. Brees is not listed on the injury report this week.

Running back Mark Ingram has 68 carries for 261 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 24 catches for 220 yards. Khiry Robinson has 31 carries for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 75 yards. C.J. Spiller has only 31 rushing yards, but does have 11 catches for  132 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was an 80 yard game winning catch and run in overtime against the Cowboys.

Receiver Willie Snead has 22 carries for 381 yards and a touchdown. Brandin Cooks has 25 catches for 322 yards and a touchdown. Marques Colston has 18 catches for 200 yards. He is questionable with a shoulder injury. Tight end Benjamin Watson has 15 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Coleman has 9 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. Five defensive players are listed as questionable or out.

Atlanta is 5-0 ATS in Thursday games, 4-0 in road games, 4-1 after failing to cover, after a straight up win, overall and on fieldturf, 6-2 against NFC and NFC South teams, 7-3 after gaining more than 350 total yards, 2-5 in October and 3-8 in week six. The Falcons have covered 4 of the last 5 games in this series and the under is 4-1 in those games.

New Orleans is 17-4 ATS against teams with winning road records, 4-1 in October, 6-2 in week six, 5-2 against teams with winning records, 2-5 overall and against NFC teams, 7-19 after passing for 250 yards or more, 1-4 in Thursday games, and against NFC South teams, 1-5 after allowing more than 350 total yards, 1-6 at home and on fieldturf. The home team is 6-1 ATS in this series recently. The underdog is 9-3 ATS recently. The over is 5-2 in New Orleans between these two teams.

Both these teams are banged up at the receiver position. Atlanta is deeper though and has more talent. neither of these teams are great on defense, so this should be a high scoring affair. I like the Falcons to remain undefeated with a close road win.

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