We are treated to one of the best Thursday night games of the year as two playoff contenders slug it out in Atlanta. Neil Monnery is here with his thoughts on the huge AFC South match-up...
'Drew Brees hasn't thrown for more than two scores since Week 3. I just checked back on his 2016 numbers and he threw for three or more Touchdowns in half his games. The numbers are stark but not worrying.'
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
Friday 8 December, 01:25
TV: Live on Sky Sports Action & Main Event
For the Falcons...
Atlanta need a bounce back performance after being throttled by the Minnesota defense at the weekend. A week after exploding back on to the scene with 253 yards receiving and a couple of scores, Julio Jones was limited to just two catches for 24 yards. The former first-round pick out of Alabama is the key to this team.
Matt Ryan is what he is, a quarterback who is coming back down to his career norm following an outstanding 2016. Last year he threw for 37 scores and only seven interceptions. So far in 2017 that is just 16 TDs and eight picks. I don't expect him to carry this team on his back.
Runningbacks Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman took apart the porous Saints D last year. In the two games they played, the duo ran for a combined 532 yards and six TDs. Not too shabby. New Orleans currently rank as the 4th worst rushing defense in terms of yards per attempt. If the Falcons can constantly pound the rock, they have a chance to win what is a huge NFC South match-up.
For the Saints...
When you have a quarterback who will be enshrined in Canton one day, you expect him to be doing the heavy lifting on offense. This is not the case in New Orleans.
Drew Brees hasn't thrown for more than two scores since Week 3. I just checked back on his 2016 numbers and he threw for three or more Touchdowns in half his games. The numbers are stark but not worrying.
The reason they've reeled off nine wins in their last ten is they run the ball superbly. Alvin Kamara averages seven yards per carry on the ground and 10.4 yards per reception. He might well be the offensive rookie of the year and he didn't get selected until the third round. He's dynamite. If you combine his number with those of Mark Ingram, who is going at 6.1 yards/carry, it is pretty obvious why they are so hot at the moment.
One thing that shouldn't be overlooked is that by running the ball more, they are taking time off the clock and leaving their defense less time to be exposed. The Achilles heel of this team is clearly how they hold up on the defensive side of the ball if they have to take the field for more than 35 minutes a game.
On Wednesday you were looking at Atlanta-1 but the line has moved and now this is a pick 'em game. This is one of the toughest calls of the season so far, I think the Saints are slightly better but they are on the road. I'm going to go with the visitors but only for a soft point, I'll throw three at the points line. New Orleans to win is trading at [2.0] on the Exchange.
Points-wise the line has been set at 51.5. When going through my thoughts on the game in my head before sitting down to write the preview, I had anything over 50 as a strong over play. Those extra 1.5 points don't worry me much at all. A full three point back on the over here at [2.0] on the Exchange.
On the side markets, two one point plays here. Using the #OddsOnThat promotion, you can get 11/8 for both teams to score one or more TDs in each half. Also in the first TD market, which I love a small dabble in for most live games, Mohamed Sanu is at 10/1.
1pt Back New Orleans at [2.0] on the Exchange
3pt Back over 51.5pts at [1.95] on the Exchange
1pt Back Mohamed Sanu to score the first TD at 10/1 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back Both teams to score one or more TDs in each half at 11/8 on the Sportsbook