Week 12 in the NFL includes a premier Thursday Night matchup between the Falcons and Saints on Thanksgiving. For this game and every other primetime contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook, BetStars, and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 12 Thursday Night Football Betting
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
The Saints stay home after thrashing the defending champion Eagles, 48-7, in another emphatic win. New Orleans has been the best team in football over the past several weeks by all measures and faces arguably the worst defensive team in the Falcons.
Atlanta coughs up the fourth-most PPG (27.6) and New Orleans leads the NFL in scoring at 37.8 PPG. The Saints defense has stiffened since edging Atlanta, 43-37, in Week 3, allowing just 19.4 PPG over their last 7 games.
The Falcons are dead last in DVOA defense and 31st against the rush, putting Mark Ingram squarely on the radar in DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel. Consider pairing Ingram with the Saints D/ST since he will need positive game flow to flash his true upside.
As vulnerable as the Falcons are on the ground, they’re just as bad against the pass, and are once again allowing the most receptions (93) and receiving yards (815) to opposing backs. Alvin Kamara has the best floor-ceiling combination of any player on this slate in a juicy draw at home.
Kamara has the edge in snaps (227-189) with only a slight edge in carries (80-79) since Ingram returned from suspension six games ago.
Atlanta will hope to get LB Deion Jones (foot) back from a lengthy absence, but could be without SS Damontae Kazee (shoulder), the second-string option filling in with Ricardo Allen on I.R.
Ravaged by injuries, Atlanta allows the highest Drive Success Rate (DSR) and the Saints lead the league in DSR, as well as yards, points, and plays per drive.
Drew Brees posted a 120.7 passer rating at Atlanta in Week 3, and he’s sporting a ridiculous 138.9 passer rating with 16 TD and no picks over 5 home starts this season.
Atlanta’s defensive scheme is to funnel targets underneath, which led to Michael Thomas catching 10-of-10 targets for 129 yards and Kamara snaring a ridiculous 15 passes in Week 3.
Thomas averages 129.2 receiving YPG with 5 of his 8 TDs coming at home. He’ll move around the formation and avoid the Falcons best CB, Desmond Trufant, who still has little chance of containing Thomas by himself.
Teams have begun selling out to stop Thomas in recent weeks, which allowed rookie Tre’Quan Smith to erupt for 10 catches and 157 yards last Sunday. Smith is questionable with a foot injury, so look for Keith Kirkwood and Austin Carr to step up if he’s inactive.
The Saints TE rotation has devolved into a three-way committee, rendering Ben Watson unplayable in DFS contests. Taysom Hill has emerged as another weapon for crafty HC Sean Payton and he could produce a couple key runs against the Falcons’ paper-soft defensive front.
As good as Brees was in the shootout at the Georgia Dome in Week 3, Matt Ryan was better.
With the Saints bracketing Julio Jones, Ryan spread the ball around to finish with a 148.1 passer rating and 5 TDs, 3 of which went to rookie WR Calvin Ridley.
Ridley has been limited by a thigh injury this week, but is a great mid-tier option in DFS contests along with Mohamed Sanu since the Saints have consistently rolled coverage towards Jones, holding him to a season-low 6 targets in Week 3. The weakest member of New Orleans secondary is slot CB P.J. Williams, and Sanu is running 76% of his routes in the slot.
Ryan owns a sparkling 22:4 TD:INT ratio this season and his volume is ensured by the Falcons horrendous defense. He has been sacked 17 times over his last 6 starts and suffered 5 sacks in a trip to New Orleans last Christmas.
The Saints will hope to get first-round DE Marcus Davenport (toe) back to spark their pass rush.
Atlanta should become one-dimensional since the Saints rank third in DVOA rush defense and can take Tevin Coleman out of the game. New Orleans is also fourth in DVOA pass defense against opposing TEs, which led to modest results from Austin Hooper in their last meeting.
But New Orleans has coughed up the most receiving yards (2,029) and second-most TDs (15) to opposing WRs, so Jones, Ridley, and Sanu all have a chance for big lines due to negative game script.
Hooper is worth a look as a contrarian option after the Saints basically shut out Zach Ertz, scaring the public away from any opposing TEs in DFS contests.
Last season, these teams played surprisingly low-scoring games with combined totals of 37 and 36 points. In 2016, they got into shootouts with totals of 77 and 70 points.
It’s hard to imagine a low-scoring bout in today’s NFL after the last premier primetime game (Chiefs-Rams) combined for over 100 points.
Nearly all the early money is coming in on the Over (59.5) and that is a far better bet than laying money on either side of the line.
These teams rank 28th and 29th in red zone defense. Both offenses are in the top four in terms of fewest 3-and-outs per drive.
About half the money is on the Falcons (+13) to cover. The Saints have blown through non-divisional foes in recent weeks, but the NFC South is one of the best divisions out there and Atlanta knows how to play their rivals.
New Orleans is surprisingly 30th in pace and correspondingly leads the NFL in time of possession (32:52) per game. Atlanta is 14th in pace in neutral situations, and 10th when trailing by 7-plus points.
Based on Sean Payton’s aggressive play-calling to rub the Eagles’ nose in defeat last Sunday, we should expect both teams to throw the ball throughout the second half regardless of the score.
Therefore, we’re taking the Over and would considering teasing it with the Falcons (+13), who are fully capable of hanging in a shootout.
To that point, over half of public bets are on the Saints, but the sharps are all over Atlanta with about 75% of the money on the Falcons to cover.
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