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Thursday's Best Bet
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NFL Week 14 TNF Betting Preview
New Orleans vs Atlanta

The New Orleans Saints are looking to keep their perfect record against division rivals in tact tonight as they prepare for the first of two meetings with Atlanta over the next three weeks. The Saints are 3-0 SU and ATS in NFC South play already this season as they've beaten Tampa Bay once and Carolina twice, all three of which came by double-digits.

New Orleans has taken the idea that it's succeeding within the division first that leads you to overall success in the league, and they are on track to do both at the moment. But disposing of this Atlanta squad that currently is on the outside of the NFC playoff picture is going to be no easy task – especially on a short week.

Sportsbetting.ag Odds: Atlanta (-2.5); Total set at 51.5

Atlanta had a rough go of it on Sunday against another NFC leader in the Minnesota Vikings, as Matt Ryan and the Falcons attack couldn't find the endzone all afternoon in the 14-9 loss. The defeat snapped a three-game run that saw Atlanta get right back into the thick of things in the playoff race, entering Week 14 a full game behind Seattle and Carolina who currently sit in those final two playoff spots respectively.

With each one of their remaining four games coming against a division rival, the Atlanta Falcons still control their own destiny, but they've got to get quite hot in this final month to get the payoff of still playing football in January.

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Atlanta fans wish they had a bit more margin of error in December given it's only NFC South matchups the rest of the way, but even on a short week this is a relatively good spot for the Falcons. This is Atlanta's third straight game at home and that level of comfort can bring a lot of confidence with it. After not finding paydirt four days ago, getting right back on the field for game action is probably the best thing for the Falcons.

After all, New Orleans has the better SU record, is catching points, and predictably has become the more “public” side this evening. All of that adds up to a side play on the Falcons probably ending up as the better betting option in that regard – especially with Atlanta's season basically on the line – but it's actually not the side I'm looking to get down on.

Tonight's total of 51.5 is actually a little low when you consider the history of this rivalry, as only once in the last 10 meetings between these two teams has the total closer at a lower number then it currently sits (and that was just 51).

Now defensively both teams have improved this year – especially New Orleans – and the Saints emphasis on running the ball this year has forced oddsmakers to put this number where it currently sits. But let's not forget they actually opened up this game at 54.5 last Sunday night and even with some bigger wagers forcing the number down, it's gotten to the point where going the other way is the better option.

During that 10-game run of totals being lined at 51 or higher, Saints/Falcons games have produced a 4-5-1 O/U mark. That's not really much help in terms of an 'over' tonight, but the fact that this is Atlanta's third straight at home is. See, during the last two years in the NFL, teams playing their 3rd of three consecutive home games and coming off a SU loss like the Falcons are, are 8-1 O/U overall. That stretch includes a 4-0 O/U mark this season and it's not like these two QB's aren't capable of putting up big numbers against one another either. Last year's two meetings averaged 73.5 points per game.

With Atlanta on a 4-0 O/U run in home games against division rivals and the Saints 10-4 O/U in their last 14 when they were lined as a favorite or underdog of less than three points, I do believe we see one of those shootouts we saw last year between these two squads. In both meetings during 2016, both teams scored 32+ points and had 442 yards or more of offense. We might not see this game reach into the 70's again, but getting into the 60's should be achieved as both QB's air it out all over the yard.

Odds per - Sportsbetting.ag

Best Bet: Over 51 points

  
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