Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: 2014 Week 16 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (5-9) at New Orleans Saints (6-8)

The Saints recently won 20 straight home games with Sean Payton and Drew Brees, covering in almost all of them (18-1-1 ATS), but they’ve since lost 4 straight games at home, all as favorites. On the season, they are just 2-5 ATS at home and oddly enough they are 4-3 ATS on the road. The Saints certainly aren’t the auto-bet at home they used to be, but it’s worth mentioning how much of an advantage they’ve had in the Superdome in recent years.

The Falcons, meanwhile, typically struggle on the road, especially over the past 2 seasons, going 4-8 ATS as road underdogs since the start of last year. This season, they move the chains at a 72.52% rate, as opposed to 76.95% for their opponents, on the road, a differential of -4.43%. The Falcons are 27-15 ATS off of a loss in the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era, since 2008, but just 2-4 ATS on the road off of a loss in the last two seasons.

The Saints are better than their record suggests, ranking 9th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 79.60% rate, as opposed to 77.33% for their opponents, a differential of 2.27%. The Falcons, meanwhile, rank 21st, moving the chains at a 74.83% rate, as opposed to 76.23% for their opponents, a differential of -1.40%. However, this line already takes into account that the Saints are better than their record as it’s at 6.5 right now.

Both of these teams are in good spots with easy games on deck, New Orleans going to Tampa Bay and Atlanta hosting the Panthers, meaning that both teams should be able to focus completely on this must win game. Divisional home favorites (like the Saints) are 37-25 ATS before being divisional road favorites since 2002, while divisional road underdogs (like the Falcons) are 60-43 ATS before being divisional home favorites. However, the Saints’ game next week is the easier of the two, which puts them in the better spot. The early line has them favored by 4.5 in Tampa Bay. Teams are 93-67 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ road favorites, including 60-40 ATS before being 4+ road favorites. I’m taking the Saints, but I’m not confident.

New Orleans Saints 30 Atlanta Falcons 20

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -6.5

Confidence: None

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