Should you bet against the Saints on Thanksgiving?
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Saints at Falcons Odds
- Odds: Saints -7
- Over/Under: 48.5
- Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: NBC
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon. Check out updated NFL spreads and over/unders here.
The Atlanta Falcons upset the Saints as 13-point underdogs just three weeks ago, beating Drew Brees and Co. outright in New Orleans, 26-9. Now the Saints are 7-point road favorites for this primetime rematch on Thanksgiving.
Which team can you trust in this divisional showdown? And is there any value on the over/under?
Our experts analyze every angle of this game from a betting perspective, complete with a staff pick.
Saints-Falcons Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Saints
The Saints have a key injury up front with Terron Armstead (back), who left last week’s game with a high-ankle sprain. His potential absence wouldn’t be ideal for the Saints given he boasts elite pass-blocking chops, grading out as their best pass blocker per Pro Football Focus. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) has managed limited practices, so he could be on track to return.
Austin Hooper (knee) has yet to resume practicing, so I wouldn’t expect him back. However, Devonta Freeman (foot) got in a full practice on Tuesday, so he should be back in the lineup on Thanksgiving.
The Falcons’ biggest injury of note is Julio Jones, who briefly exited last week’s game with a shoulder injury before ultimately returning. However, he has yet to get in a practice this week, which is concerning for his outlook. I’d be very surprised if he isn’t listed as questionable on Thursday’s injury report. — Justin Bailey
Note: Info as of Wednesday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Michael Thomas vs. Falcons Pass Defense
Death, taxes and eight-plus catches for Michael Thomas.
Those are pretty much the only things you can count on these days, and at this point, Thomas seems far more certain to live forever and never pay taxes than to fail to dust whichever secondary has the misfortune of facing him in a given week.
Thomas has posted at least eight catches and 89 yards in all but one game this season, and he still found the end zone in the one game he didn’t hit those catch and yard marks. The onslaught includes a 13-152 thrashing of these very Falcons back in Week 10 despite the Saints falling, 26-9.
The Falcons are no match for Thomas. And it’s not because they’re ranked 29th in pass defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders. Or because they’ve allowed the third-most yards (192.5) and sixth-most touchdowns (1.27) per game to wide receivers. It’s simply because no defense is. — Chris Raybon
PRO System Match
Since 2003, the under is 825-732-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.
It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it’s been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.
Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 183-112-3 (62%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,193 following this strategy.
A majority of tickets are on this over as of writing (see live public betting data here), but the line has moved from 50 to 48.5 — line movement that’s been driven by sharp action. — John Ewing
Stuckey: Under 1H 24/Under 49 game split
I expect a fully focused effort from the Saints defense a week after giving up 31 to the Panthers, especially with revenge on their minds from a home upset loss to these same Falcons a few weeks ago.
I was on Atlanta in that game at +13, which obviously deserved to cover, but the outright win was fairly fortunate despite a 26-9 final. The total yardage was essentially dead even, and the Saints actually averaged more yards per play (4.9-4.5). So, despite losing by 17, they held the Falcons to almost 1.5 yards per play under their season average.
What went wrong? Bad Saints penalties at very inopportune times (12/90 in total) and 0-3 on fourth downs for Sean Payton’s bunch.
Ultimately, I still trust this Saints defense to contain a Falcons offense that has plenty of issues.
Yes, the Falcons have Matt Ryan and a pair of very good receivers in Jones and Calvin Ridley. But they have no running game to speak of, averaging 3.5 yards per carry (28th) and will likely be down to their third-string tight end — a position that’s very important to the offense, especially in the red zone. And remember that Jones isn’t fully healthy. The offensive line is also a mess and will be going up against a strong Saints defensive from that should win the line of scrimmage battle all night long.
With or without Lattimore, I don’t expect Atlanta to explode on offense. I also think the Falcons will run it more than usual to shorten the game with an undermanned offense.
The Saints, meanwhile, have their own issues along the offensive line. After already losing starting left guard Andreas Peat, they’ll now be without Armstead, who has been one of the best tackles in the league this season. He’s especially strong in pass protection, where he’ll be sorely missed. Per PFF, he ranks fourth among 55 tackles with a minimum of 500 snaps with a pass-blocking grade of 84.3.
Whoever the Saints elect to go with, the pass protection will take a hit, which is concerning against a Falcons defensive front that dominated the trenches in the first matchup. Atlanta got to Brees for six sacks in that Week 10 showdown.
I think you’ll see the Saints go heavier run than normal without their star tackle. Thomas will get his against a very bad Falcons pass defense, but Mike gets his against everyone. This Saints offense is a very slow and conservative attack that ranks 30th in seconds per play in both the first half and full game.
When people think of the Falcons and Saints, they think of explosive offense, which is giving us a touch of value on the under in a Thanksgiving primetime game. I expect both game scripts to be conducive to the under.
I’d look at the Falcons at +7.5 or even potentially a flat 7, though I prefer the under, which I split that between the first half (24) and full game (49). I wouldn’t go below 24 for the first half or 48 for the game.