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Thursday Night Props

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Atlanta and New Orleans kick off Week 13 action tonight as the Falcons hunt for revenge against the only team they have fallen too this year. Atlanta may be 10-1 SU and in control of the NFC South but they still know that the division runs through New Orleans after recent years of dominance by the Saints. Drew Brees and company have won the past four games with Atlanta and quite frankly the Falcons have to be sick of it. But I'm not addressing who will come out on top here; instead I'm looking at a few prop bets that bettors should be aware of tonight.

Prop #1: Julio Jones Pass Receptions: Over 5 (-130) or Under 5 (+100)

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Julio has been dealing with a bad ankle in recent weeks but that didn't stop him from grabbing an 80-yard TD last week. Jones ended up with six grabs and 147 yards in last week's win over Tampa and continues to be a focal point for QB Matt Ryan when he wants to stretch the field. In his second year with the Falcons, Jones has become a key component of their offense and has been targeted at least 5 times in every contest so far this year. Those targets don't always lead to plenty of receptions given that opposing defenses have found ways to shut him down but he has caught at least 5 passes in six of Atlanta's 11 games so far.

In the previous meeting vs. New Orleans, Jones caught 4 balls for 75 yards on 5 targets and that simply wasn't enough. It was the fewest targets he's seen all year and I know Atlanta wants that to change tonight. Given that they are at home and hungry for revenge, expect Jones to be a big part of the game plan.

Take the over on this prop.

Prop #2: Drew Brees Total TD passes: Over 2.5 (-130) or Under 2.5 (+100)

Brees is one of the best in the business and has thrown at least three TD passes in three consecutive contests. One of those was the first meeting with the Falcons as he passed for 3 TD's and 298 yards in the 31-27 win. Yet, expecting to pass for three TD's is a lot to ask for from anyone, especially in a heated rivalry like this one. In his past two trips to the Georgia Dome, Brees has not eclipsed this mark, throwing for 2 and 1 TD's respectively in those two New Orleans wins.

The passing game is what the Saints are known for but in recent weeks they have found a consistent running game that serves them well in terms of balance and keeping opposing defenses off guard. With a four-headed backfield that features Ingram, Sproles, Ivory and Thomas, New Orleans can put any one of those guys in any formation and have the threat of running. The bigger backs like Ivory and Ingram are being used more and more in the red zone when defenses tighten up and try to take away Brees' passing options.

That is precisely what I see Atlanta trying to do tonight. Limit the big plays and take the ball out of Drew Brees' hands. If that is the case, Brees will not throw for 3 TD's or more unless a couple of them are 60-80 yard bombs where coverage breaks down or missed tackles are aplenty.

Take the under.

  
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