By Stephen Rodriguez – Wannamakeabet.com Staff Writer
Pick of the Week: New Orleans Saints (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Arguably, no one in the NFL is hotter than the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are winners of 9 of their last 10 games; with that one loss coming on the road to the first place Los Angeles Rams by six points. New Orleans defeated the Carolina Panthers and covered the spread last week as they have eight times this year. Expect that to continue Thursday against Atlanta.
The Saints rank second in total offense with a balanced attack of both rushing and passing. Drew Brees is third in passing yards with 3, 298 yards and in quarterback rating with 104.2. They also have the best running back duo in the league with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Ingram ranks fourth in the league in rushing with 922 yards and has 9 rushing touchdowns which is best amongst running backs.
His teammate Alvin Kamara is what takes this team to the next level with his ability to run and catch the ball. Kamara only ranks 17th in rushing with 606 yards, but averages 7 yards per rush which is the best for running backs that rank in the top 25 for rushing. The rookie also has 614 receiving yards this season which is the best amongst running backs.
The Falcons are coming off a 14-9 loss against the tough Minnesota Vikings. Matt Ryan was held to 173 passing yards and Julio Jones finished the game with two receptions for 24 yards. One bright spot for Atlanta was the return of Devonta Freeman who rushed for 74 yards on 12 carries. Atlanta also has Tevin Coleman in the back field who had a quiet day with 8 carries for 22 yards despite having a big day the week before. In week 12, Coleman had 97 yards and two touchdowns. Of course Freeman’s return and Minnesota’s defense factor into that, but the Falcons tend to have inconsistencies in their offense.
When it comes to defense both teams are very similar by the numbers. Atlanta ranks 8th in total defense and the Saints 12th. Atlanta gives up 113.2 rushing yard per game and New Orleans averages 112.8. They both average 20.3 ppg. The only difference real comes in terms of passing yards allowed; Atlanta averages 207.8 and the Saints 217.3, yet that’s still very similar.
With the spread set at 1.5, this game becomes a flip of the coin. New Orleans has the more balanced offense to match their defense. The Saints will march and edge out a road victory in Atlanta.
Prediction: Saints win 27-24
Pick of the Week: New England Patriots (-10.5) at Miami Dolphins
If you read last week’s article you understand the belief in not betting against the Pats; last week in Buffalo was a great example why. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins in Week 12 35-17. Tom Brady threw 4 touchdown passes and the team rused for a combined 196 yards. New England is the NFL’s best offense, and leads the league in total offense and passing yards per game with 292.6. Tom Brady leads the league in passing with 3,632 yards and looks poised for yet another MVP season. The Patriots defense has also returned to form and allowed just 3 points last week.
The Dolphins offense ranks 4th worst in the league averaging 17.4 ppg and just 84.7 yards rushing per game. On the other side of the ball, Miami’s defense allows an average of 223.4 passing yards per game and 24.8 ppg. Don’t expect this week to be any different from Week 12. Tom Brady and the Patriots will have a big day despite Rob Gronkowski’s suspension.
Prediction: Patriots win 31-14
New Orleans Saints (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons
New England Patriots (-10.5) at Miami Dolphins
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns
Oakland Raiders (+4) at Kansa City Chiefs