NFL Thursday Night Football Picks: Falcons at Saints

The 5-0 Atlanta Falcons hit the Big Easy tonight for a marquee matchups vs. a desperate New Orleans Saints team — ATS prediction!


The Falcons are a 3.5-point favorite and learned Wednesday that both WR Julio Jones (hammy) and RB Devonta Freeman (toe) would be at full capacity for Week 6 but it sounds like starting C Mike Person (ankle) has been ruled out. Next to the quarterback, the center is the only player on the offensive side who touches the ball on every snap, so although this isn’t catastrophic, it could increase the Falcons’ chances for an untimely turnover or sack while decreasing the O-Line’s run blocking ability.

Atlanta’s O-Line has functioned as a top 10 unit during their impressive start and it’s no coincidence the team ranks second in third-down conversions and first in time of possession, also keeping Matty Ice from hitting the turf too many times per game. Ryan has only been sacked nine times through five games and the Falcons have turned the ball over 1.0 times per game, while generating 2.0 takeaways (net turnover margin of +1.0; tied for sixth in the league).

I’ve been working on a system that factors some of these key elements into play and when the road team has the advantage, they are 31-8 SU the past 10 seasons, covering the spread at a 74-percent rate (28-10-1 ATS). The average pointspread in these games was only -2.0 and the reason we are getting value is that the offensive line and defensive front seven are not the common elements of public betting. They are, however, integral parts of a winning team and when traveling into a hostile environment, such as a loud indoor stadium like the Superdome, a tight functioning front unit can make the difference between winning and losing a tight game.

The Falcons qualify for this system tonight and so far this season it is 2-0 SU/ATS, the road teams winning by eight and 14 points. I played Atlanta at -3 early in the week and had to pay -117 in juice. I’m concerned about the O-Line but would still recommend betting the Falcs at -3.5  or perhaps teasing the Falcons to setup a side or total for Sunday. One thing I wouldn’t recommend doing is paying an extra 20 cents to buy this line down to -3 (at -130). On a short week there are so many intangibles that come into play and if the Saints end up pulling an upset, you don’t want to be down 0-1 AND a ton of juice over one bet. Lay the -3.5 and look for the Falcons to win by six or seven.

Prediction: FALCONS 27, Saints 20

Our Week 6 NFL Reports featuring the SDQL is now available online! Eight picks plus winning sports information and trends on every matchup — Click here!