2006 Season NFL Football Past Picks

September 25, 2006

This pick was released to clients on July 30, 2012 at 8:22PM ET.

25

Atlanta at New Orleans

Monday 09/25 08:30 PM Eastern

2 units on New Orleans +4.5 (-110) (risk 2 to return 3.82)  RESULT: WIN

Atlanta has really impressed me this year. I have bashed them repeatedly the past two years when I felt they were vastly overrated. I felt that the public gave too much credit to Michael Vick (who while exciting, hasn't produced) and ignored too much their weak defense. Well, things appear to be looking up for the Falcons. Vick is in his third year under this offense and that's typically when quarterbacks "get it." And they took steps to shore up the defense by bringing in John Abraham (but he is questionable for tonight's game). They have held their first two opponents to just 9 total points. This team is a machine when it comes to running the ball. They are already averaging a sick 279 yards per game rushing. That being said, I think Atlanta is at risk of being a bit overconfident coming into this game. Warrick Dunn said this week that "I don't think any defense can stop us." The ESPN analysts can't stop talking about how great they are. And, regardless of New Orleans' 2-0 record, I think Atlanta still views them as a doormat team. They come in off two convincing victories against teams that were supposed to be at the top of their division - Carolina and Tampa Bay. After creaming those two teams, how hard could it be to beat lowly New Orleans? But, those easy victories may work against them as Atlanta is 0-6 ATS the past three seasons on the road after gaining 6+ yards per play in their last game. As much as Atlanta has improved, the Saints have improved A LOT more. Deuce McAllister is healthy and playing well again. Reggie Bush has added an obvious threat. The young receivers are playing very well. But, the biggest improvement is Drew Brees. Think Miami is kicking themselves now? Brees last week showed mental toughness and poise in getting a tough victory in Green Bay. He doesn't give up (what we want to see in an underdog). He is the real deal. I have concerns about their defense but they have allowed just 74 yards rushing per game so far. Granted, Atlanta is a different animal than Cleveland or Green Bay. But, holding any two NFL opponents to 74 average yards on the ground says something. The final reason I like New Orleans here is the obvious one - emotion. This game is the biggest thing to hit New Orlenas since Katrina. How pumped up will the fans and players be? How high will the emotion be? Off the friggin charts! Last season the Saints won and covered very few games. One of them was their opener after Katrina. They left it all on the field as they played for the city. I think they do the same here. My computer simulation (http://www.freeunderdog.com/CurrentMatchUps-NFL.php) predicts a very tight game. My initial gut feeling was about this game was that Atlanta could post a blowout - that their offense and running game was just way too much for New Orleans. But, I think it will be close and down to the wire given the Saints' solid offense and emotional edge. NEVER underestimate motivation and emotion in pro sports - it trumps talent every time. Take the Saints and the points at home in their 2006 "Super Bowl."

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