The Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints on “Thursday Night Football” to open Week 14 of the NFL season. The Saints are favored by 1.5 points in this critical NFC South showdown after the line swung 3.5 points from an open of Atlanta -2.
The over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is a robust 53.5, down two from where it opened.
Before you make any bets on Saints-Falcons, you’ll want to hear what SportsLine Senior Analyst Larry Hartstein has to say.
In Week 2, he laid 2.5 points with Atlanta against visiting Green Bay. The result: Falcons 34, Packers 23. In Week 9, he faded Atlanta as a one-point favorite at Carolina, cashing yet again after the Panthers’ three-point win.
Strikingly, those calls helped improve his record to 10-2 on picks for or against the Falcons since the start of last season. Anyone who has followed his picks is way, way up.
Part of his success: Hartstein was a sportswriter based in Atlanta for 15 years. He has his finger on the pulse of Dan Quinn’s team.
Now, he’s going for 11-2 on Falcons picks Thursday night, and he’s sharing his pick over at SportsLine.
Hartstein knows the Saints have won nine of their past 10 games and scored at least 30 in their past four victories.
Rookie running back Alvin Kamara has scored in six straight and is third among running backs in receptions with 59, behind only Le’Veon Bell (66) and Christian McCaffrey (64). Kamara and Mark Ingram form a dynamic 1-2 punch out of the backfield.
And defensively, the Saints could get back rookie corner Marshon Lattimore (ankle), bolstering a defense that’s No. 12 in scoring (20.3 ppg) and No. 11 against the pass (217.3 ypg).
But just because the Saints have been on fire doesn’t mean they cover on the road in a divisional game on a short week.
The Falcons have won three of their past four games and put up at least 27 points in all three victories. Quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown for multiple scores in four of his past six outings.
SportsLine’s advanced projection model says Ryan will continue to roll in prime time, putting up almost 300 yards and two touchdowns.
And, like the Saints, the Falcons could also get defensive reinforcements. Top corner Desmond Trufant has been cleared from his concussion and will play for Atlanta on Thursday night.
The Falcons badly need a win against the Saints, who hold a two-game lead on Atlanta in the NFC South. These two teams meet twice in the next three weeks.
Hartstein is leaning under for Thursday night, but what about the spread, which he has made his name picking?
He knows there’s a huge x-factor that ultimately determines the point-spread winner for Saints-Falcons. And he’s sharing it over at SportsLine.