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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 1: Saints Vs. Falcons

New Orleans Saints Vs. Atlanta Falcons: NO -2.5 (-123) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Was Vegas overestimating the Falcons back in May or were they expecting a dropoff from the Saints? Either way, this line opened with Atlanta as -1 favorites at the LVH all those months ago. Pinnacle even had them at -2.

Once the preseason rolled around people quickly realized that the wrong team was favored. As it stands now, the Saints are a consensus -3 favorite at most places, but you can still find -2.5 with a bit of extra juice if you have the right book. I'd still roll with NO even if -3 was my only option though. A big 78% of bets are on the road team.

Bottom Line

The primary reason behind this pick is that I have a pretty good idea of what I'm getting with New Orleans. There's a lot of stability and continuity in this organization and we know the offense will be deadly. My concerns about Brees on the road are somewhat tempered by the fact that he's facing a familiar opponent in a dome. On defense, they have a chance to be even better with another year in the system and some key additional pieces.

What version of the Falcons will we see? Something closer to the 2012 edition I imagine, but I don't think they'll be close to that level to start the year (if they get there at all). There are big questions with their front seven and the young guys are still raw in the secondary. Brees shouldn't have too many problems going through his progressions.

If Atlanta are going to win this game (or cover), they'll need Matty Ice to keep up offensively. With Jones and White on the field at the same time, Koetter can effectively build schemes around them, but the Saints D will have something to say about that. They can both rush the passer and create some unique looks on the back end thanks to their starting safeties.

Can the Falcons pull this one out? Yes, but it's asking a lot of them to return to prior form out of the gate against one of the best teams in the NFC.

NFL Pick: NO -2.5.
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