Falcons - Saints Thursday Night Preview

ARE UNDEFEATED FALCONS FOR REAL? ARE 1-4 SAINTS OFFICIALLY TOAST? ANSWERS THURSDAY!

Before the season began, few expected that this Thursday night's NFL game would be featuring a 5-0 Atlanta Falcons team visiting the 1-4 New Orleans Saints. Maybe Atlanta would be 1-4 after 2014 was so bad. Maybe the Saints would be 5-0 with one last hurrah in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era. How did the FALCONS get so much better than the Saints so quickly?

Don't forget that nobody in the NFC South even had a winning record last season. Five weeks into 2015, Atlanta and Carolina are a combined 9-0! New Orleans has fallen behind rebuilding Tampa Bay and their rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Clearly...it's time to figure out whether or not Atlanta is for real...and whether or not New Orleans is officially toast. Let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats have to say...

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Atlanta: 5-0 (#12 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
New Orleans: 1-4 (#14 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)

Both teams have played comparable schedules according to Jeff Sagarin of USA Today. That means the numbers you see today won't be polluted. Atlanta really is superior. New Orleans may not go 1-4 every five games the whole way...but they're clearly much worse than league average because they've been losing to a league average schedule. So far...Atlanta is for real and New Orleans is toast!

Yards-Per-Play
Atlanta: 5.8 on offense, 5.8 on defense
New Orleans: 5.7 on offense, 6.5 on defense

Here's our first strike against Atlanta being any sort of juggernaut. They're only dead even in YPP differential. They do close well thanks to their veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. But...that certainly isn't the defense of a 13-3 type team. New Orleans has one of the worst defenses in the league however you slice it. There's just no way Drew Brees can play well enough to overcome what his defense is allowing. And, that's particularly true at a time when NFL defenses have largely adjusted to that type of offense. More evidence the Saints are toast.

Turnover Differential
Atlanta: +5
New Orleans: -5

Part of the reason Atlanta is undefeated is that they're getting the best of it in the risk reward area. Can they keep that going all season? It's possible because the success of their offense puts pressure on opposing offenses. That's part of how New England gets away with less-than-awesome YPP differentials sometimes. New Orleans is in big trouble because the defense doesn't force takeaways (only one per game on average so far) and Brees has to force things while playing catch up. Long term, it looks like Atlanta is going to need a turnover boost to be a threat in January. The Saints may be staring at only a 3-4 win season if they don't clean up their play.

Market Performance
Atlanta: 4-1 ATS
New Orleans: 2-3 ATS

Atlanta had covered every game until failing last week in a letdown performance as a home favorite against the Washington Redskins. New Orleans' first cover at Carolina was lucky thanks to a non-offensive score...and then they needed overtime to cover against Dallas in the Sunday Night game two weeks ago. So, that 2-3 ATS is really 1-4 or 0-5 ATS if you take out good luck! The market misread both teams to start the season. Will they get it right this week? Have they overreacted?

Current Line: Atlanta by 3.5, total of 51

Remember Atlanta is the ROAD team here. That line would be about Atlanta -6 or -6.5 on a neutral field...and Atlanta -9 or -10 in the Georgia Dome. The market has clearly adjusted to the first third of the season. Handicappers and bettors must now determine whether or not that's too far. Should New Orleans really be this big a dog at HOME? To a hated divisional rival with a soft defense?

JIM HURLEY knows how important it is to start off your week on a winning note. He'll make sure his clients get the right side or total in this one come game day. In the meantime, you can keep building your bankroll with postseason baseball! You can always purchase BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours between now and Thursday's kickoff.

Big game TV previews will continue later in the week. Coming up this weekend in the NOTEBOOK...

*College Football TV Preview...#10 Alabama at #9 Texas A&M
*NFL Sunday Night TV Preview...New England at Indianapolis
*NFL Monday Night TV Preview...NY Giants at Philadelphia
*NFL Thursday Night TV Preview...Seattle at San Francisco

So many storylines in play! Alabama is tested AGAIN, while so many highly ranked teams have played barely anyone at all so far. In the NFL...Patriots/Colts was supposed to be an AFC Championship preview (and it's already a championship replay from last season). Philadelphia was supposed to be an NFC sleeper, though maybe they finally woke up. When was the last time Seattle and San Francisco played when neither was above .500?!

Beating Vegas in football means knowing when to ride teams and when to go against them. Nobody reaches the winner's circle more than JIM HURLEY!

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