Thursday Night Football: Week 13 Preview, NO at ATL

Thursday Night Football is the nightcap for Thanksgiving football! An NFC South showcase between teams trending in opposite directions.

New Orleans at Atlanta Falcons

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Atlanta, GA

Betting

The Saints (-300) are pretty big favorites in this Thursday Night Football matchup. The result has seen them rise to -7.0 (-105) on the spread and I think that’s a little too rich. The Falcons have rebounded nicely after a horrendous start to the season. Since defeating this same Saints team a few weeks ago, the Falcons have improved drastically as a team. Their defense has stepped up and they’re scoring in the 20s with ease. As for the Saints, getting into the 30s has been a regular occurrence this season. Which is why I love the OVER on the total of 48.5 (-115). This game is much more likely to be a shootout, unlike the Week 10 game.

Injuries

For the Falcons, Austin Hooper remains out but there is an even more notable injury to monitor tonight.

Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in NFL history, as evidenced by his recent passing of Calvin Johnson on the All-Time Receiving list.

The Saints aren’t as lucky on the injury front as the Falcons tonight. Not only are starting lineman Terron Armstead and Andrus Peat OUT, but Will Clapp is questionable as well. If Clapp misses tonight’s game, the Saints will only have 6 linemen available. With the blindside completely vulnerable, the Saints will need to operate quickly in order for Drew Brees to remain intact. Also worth monitoring is the status of Marshon Lattimore as he is listed as questionable. 

Falcons Offense vs. Saints Defense

With Devonta Freeman back from injury, the Falcons should see an increase in their running game. Sure, Freeman hasn’t been the most productive ‘back this season, but he is still a talented runner with a history of success. More importantly, the Falcons can attack the Saints weakness with their own best strength: Passing. Matt Ryan will likely have Julio Jones tonight which means any corner not named Marshon Lattimore is in deep water. This is not only because of the pure talent advantage Jones gives the Falcons, but also the fact that Calvin Ridley has emerged as the perfect complement to the All-Pro. Ridley will have Eli Apple attempting to cover him and I suspect Ryan will feed him targets early and often. The saving grace for this Saints defense is Cameron Jordan and his 9.5 sacks this season. Matt Ryan has already taken 29 sacks this season so we can expect Jordan to pump up that number tonight.

Matt Ryan via Keith Allison for Thursday Night Football
Matt Ryan via Keith Allison

Saints Offense vs. Falcons Defense

As I mentioned earlier, the Saints will be without Drew Brees’ blindside protection on Thursday Night Football. As a result, Brees will have to get the ball out quickly. I would like to say this is an excellent bounce-back game opportunity for Alvin Kamara but the Falcons have been amazing against the run as of late. So, Jared Cook will have the responsibility of drawing coverage away from Michael Thomas so that the All-Pro can attack the inexperienced secondary of the Falcons. The biggest factor in how this game turns out will be if someone other than Grady Jarrett can create pressure with the Saints down some lineman.

Drew Brees via Keith Allison for Thursday Night Football
Drew Brees via Keith Allison

Predictions

Saints: 31

Falcons: 24

Guaranteed Touchdown Scorer: Michael Thomas

Dart Throw Touchdown Scorer: Taysom Hill

Taysom Hill via GrabitMike for Thursday Night Football
Taysom Hill via GrabitMike

Conclusion

Who do you think will win Thursday Night Football tonight? Will the Saints leapfrog the rest of the NFC and capture the #1-seed? Let me know in the comments below! Also, check out the shop and other content by clicking here.

-Mitchell Seefeldt

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