Falcons at Saints Monday Night Pick and Betting Preview
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On the Monday night the 6-0 New Orleans Saints will play host to the 4-2 Atlanta Falcons. The Saints are coming off a road victory against the Miami Dolphins in which they trailed by 21 points. Down 24-3, Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense remembered they were Drew Brees and New Orleans offense. Brees shook off his 3 interceptions and the team scored 36 points in the second half, winning the game and covering the line. On the other hand, the Falcons are coming off a bad loss to an improving Dallas team that pressured Matt Ryan much of the day. The Atlanta offensive line was unable to pick of the Dallas blitz packages all afternoon, sacking Ryan 4 times, forcing 2 fumbles, and leading to 2 interceptions.
The betting line for the game opened at New Orleans -8.5 and has already climbed to -10. I don’t expect much movement beyond the -10.5 mark, but it will be interesting to see how the money moves closer to the game. I suspect many will look at the -10 and feel very safe in betting Atlanta, after all, they are a 4-2 team, Matt Ryan is an elite quarterback in this league, and the trio of Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, and Roddy White should be enough to cover. All of this is true, but none of those factors individually or combined will be enough. New Orleans will win and they will win by more than 10 points.
There is little that New Orleans can not do offensively. They are 1st in the league in total yards per game, 6th in the pass, 3rd in the run, and 1st in total points with an average of almost 40 points per games through 7 weeks. What makes this even more impressive is the quality of defensive opponents in which they are stock piling these numbers against. If they were playing the Lions every week, I would give pause to the offensive dominance, but thus far they have put up these numbers against 3 of the top 10 total defenses in the league; Eagles, Giants, and Dolphins. Atlanta ranks 25th in the league in yards allowed per game, 26th in passing yards allowed per game, and 23rd in yards on the ground. If New Orleans can put up huge offensive numbers against some of the league’s best defense teams, there is little reason to think the Falcons defense will slow them down.
Atlanta‘s only hope is to match the New Orleans offense score for score. To make matters worse for Atlanta, they will be going up against a New Orleans defense that is ranked 7th in the league and has a new blueprint to follow from Dallas. Last week Dallas may have also exposed the Atlanta offensive line. Prior to last week, Matt Ryan had only been sacked 2 times all year. Dallas got to him on 4 separate occasions. Like most quarterbacks in this league, they do not like pressure and Matt Ryan is no exception. Dallas got pressure up the middle with packages that included 6 and 7 rushers. New Orleans is athletic enough on the defensive side of the ball to take advantage of this. Last week when New Orleans took the lead from Miami, they blitzed on 14 of Miami’s final 18 offensive plays. Expect a similarly high output when New Orleans scores early and often to jump out in front Monday night.
On the road, Atlanta is a far different team. Even though we are not dealing with huge sample sizes this early in the year, 1-2 road Falcons team has been bad. If you take away their blowout performance against an over rated San Francisco team, Atlanta suffered an embarrassing beat down week 2 in New England, losing 26-10. New England was able to put up nearly 450 yards of total offense against Atlanta, dominated the time of possession battle nearly 2 to 1, and only allowed Atlanta 250 yards of total offense. Last week against Dallas, the Atlanta defense struggled, giving up almost 415 yards of total offense, with Romo going for almost 300 yards and 3 touchdowns.
I always caution against the emotional bet. It is a great way to chase and lose money. This is the type of game that can lend itself to such a bet because the public would rather bet against a team going 7-0 rather than just looking at the numbers. If you are going to bet against New Orleans, do not let it be because you think they will just go out and lay an egg. That type of bet is not quantifiable in any measurable way and not backed by any reasonable statistics. New Orleans is better than their 6-0 record indicates a far superior team when compared to Atlanta.
Monday Night Pick: New Orleans -10 (Bet Now at Bodog.com)