Welcome to the Thursday Night Football betting breakdown, where I’ll provide a betting overview of the upcoming Thursday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. Additionally, I’ll hone in on at least one player or game prop each week that I feel has profit potential at one of those three sportsbooks.
All betting takes will be classified as either a “lean” or a “pick”. A lean is a wager that we have a certain degree of certainty in. However, it’s one that still falls somewhere short of a high-confidence selection. A pick carries an additional degree of confidence based on a variety of factors. These include relevant injuries; past track record of each team in those bet types and under the specific conditions that apply; and recent performances of each team leading up to the game.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to TNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Thursday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
For two games, it looked like someone had legitimately swapped out the Falcons‘ defensive roster over their Week 9 bye. Atlanta returned to action in Week 10 and manhandled the Saints in the shocker of the season. Then, they followed up that 26-9 road upset with a second consecutive walloping of a division foe in the Panthers, embarrassing Carolina by a 29-3 margin at Bank of America Stadium. The third time wasn’t a charm, however. The Falcons appeared to come down to earth at the hands of Jameis Winston, Chris Godwin and the Buccaneers in Week 12.
The Saints were on the winning end last Sunday, although it wasn’t easy. After building a 31-18 lead late in the third quarter, New Orleans had to withstand a rally by the Panthers that would have succeeded in at least tying the game had rookie kicker Joey Slye succeeded on a late field-goal attempt. The Saints’ pass defense did spring some concerning leaks in the contest, allowing Kyle Allen to throw for three touchdowns and D.J. Moore to catch two of them on his way to eclipsing the century mark in yardage.
Looking ahead to Thursday, the Saints could be the ones putting on the aerial show. The Falcons are surrendering 266.4 passing yards per contest, including 280.3 passing yards over the last three games. Even in the unsightly Week 10 defeat to Atlanta, Drew Brees managed to help Michael Thomas to a 13-152 line through the air. Thomas will undoubtedly be leaned on heavily again, but the downfield speed of Ted Ginn, Jr. could also play a role in a game during which New Orleans could be particularly aggressive following their clunker against Atlanta last time out. The air attack could also represent the path of least resistance; consider the Falcons have yielded a solid 109.9 rushing yards per game, including just 87.3 over the last three.
The Falcons could find themselves in much the same circumstances. The Saints have allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards per contest (88.5) and boast the stingiest road run defense in the league (70.2 rushing yards allowed per away game). Atlanta will get Devonta Freeman (foot) back for this contest. However, those numbers are a pretty strong deterrent to focusing too heaving on the ground attack. There’s also the fact New Orleans has surrendered 271 passing yards per away game, which should certainly entice offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to dial up plenty of plays through the air.
Ultimately, I see the Saints as too motivated by their postseason aspirations and their desire to avenge their first loss to the Falcons to falter again in this spot.
TNF Point Spread
Saints head coach Sean Payton has never been shy about being aggressive, even going outside NFL decorum on occasion by piling on when he has a lead. Given this killer instinct and the embarrassment New Orleans’ Week 10 debacle, I see Payton going for the jugular here.
The Saints are 7-4 (63.6 percent) against the spread this season, including 4-1 (80.0 percent) as an away team.
The Falcons are 4-7 (36.4 percent) against the spread this season, including 2-3 (40.0 percent) as a home team.
I can see the Falcons hanging tough for a quarter here, but the Saints’ talent on both sides of the ball is clearly superior. As such, I see New Orleans separating by more than a touchdown during the second half to notch the cover.
The Pick: Saints -6.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook
TNF Over/Under Total
We have a fairly elevated total here, easily the highest of the three Thanksgiving games. The Falcons have been a generous defense at home, allowing 28.6 points per game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Saints have averaged 25.0 per road tilt, so the numbers support a high 40s total.
The Over is 6-5 (54.5 percent) in the Saints’ games this season, including 3-2 (60.0 percent) in their away games. Then, the Over is 4-7 (36.4 percent) in the Falcons’ games this season, including 1-4 (20.0 percent) in their home games.
As a late-season divisional game on a short week, I can see where scoring would be tempered here to an extent. I believe the Saints will be aggressive here, as mentioned earlier. However, I see the Falcons struggling to keep up their end of the bargain. Therefore, I’m leaning toward a slight Under of the 49.0 points.
Best TNF Prop Bet
New Orleans Saints -6.5 and Under 50.5 points (+230 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
In line with my belief we’ll see a Saints cover and the Under hit, I’m suggesting this as a solid prop/ price. It’s worth noting four of the last five games in the series have finished under Thursday’s projected total, as have five of New Orleans’ contests this season. Five of the Saints’ last six wins have also been by a touchdown or more. Then, six of the Falcons’ losses this season have been more than seven points, including all four of their home defeats.