Thanksgiving Day NFL Betting Preview: Saints at Falcons

The Thursday night Thanksgiving Day game can sometimes be a little hazy. Whether it’s the tryptophan in the turkey causing you to nod off, or a few extra beverages in your belly, it’s probably a good idea to lock in your Thursday Night bet early. This year the nightcap will take place in Atlanta, as we get a divisional matchup between the Saints and the Falcons.

The Falcons did a convincing job of changing people’s minds about how good of a team they were heading into last week’s game hosting Tampa Bay. However, it turns out that the Falcons are who we thought they were, as they fell 35-22 as 4.5-point home favorites. The Saints didn’t fare much better though, as they should have lost to the Panthers but prevailed with a last-second field goal after Carolina missed a field goal of their own.

Saints Offense vs. Falcons Defense

The turnaround many were buying heading into last week's game was on the Falcons defense. After being one of the worst defenses in the league through the first 10 weeks, Atlanta held the Saints to 9 points at New Orleans, before holding the Panthers to 3 points at Carolina. However, back in the dome on their home turf, the Falcons looked just as lost as ever, allowing 35 points to the Bucs despite Jameis Winston’s typical three interceptions.

Overall, Atlanta has the fourth-worst pass defense in the league, but the 11th best rush defense. Unfortunately for Atlanta, the Saints are top ten regardless of how they attack their opponents. And after the complete embarrassment the Saints suffered at home against this team two weeks ago, you’d expect that New Orleans will be fully prepared with a new game plan for this matchup.

Falcons Offense vs. Saints Defense

The Falcons aren’t quite as bad on offense as they are on defense, but they still rank just 20th overall in offensive efficiency. Atlanta also may be missing their All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones who suffered a shoulder injury and is currently questionable after missing practice on Tuesday. With the short turnaround of a Thursday night game, it would not be surprising to see Jones sit out.

Atlanta is already missing their top running back, Devonta Freeman, so losing Jones would be a massive blow to their effectiveness on offense. The Falcons have shown no interest in running the ball this year, ranking second to last in the league in rushing attempts per game. New Orleans possesses the 7th best run defense in football, so it’s unlikely that Atlanta would be able to get anything going on the ground even if they wanted to.

Now, potentially without Jones, a one-dimensional Falcons team will be facing the Saints 11th ranked pass defense. That does not sound like a recipe for success on offense.

The Spread and Total

Overall, this game looks like a clear mismatch, and the spread reflects that. The look-ahead line here was Saints -5.5. Despite New Orleans not impressing against Carolina, the oddsmakers were more disappointed in the Falcons and have moved the spread to Saints -7 on the road. The early action has all been on the favorite, as 79% of the bets and 80% of the money is on New Orleans. However, the -7 is available at even money, while there is heavy juice on the home underdog.

The total on this game opened at 48.5 and the initial money came in on the over. Considering how one dimensional the Falcons offense is likely to look, if Julio Jones can’t play, the over money seems unwise. The number is currently at 49, or 48.5 with juice on the over. Keep your eyes and ears on Julio Jones' injury status, and be ready to pounce on the under if he's officially out of the game.

Thanksgiving Day Trends

  • Favorites are 73.2-percent ATS going 30-11 since 2003.
  • In that time, favorites by over six points are 16-3 ATS.

By Kyle Johansen

@kylejohansen


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