Thursday Night Football is now done with for this season but we have one more pre-Sunday game to enjoy as the Atlanta Falcons travel to Detroit to face the Lions on Saturday night. Last week the Falcons blew out the NY Giants 34-0. The Falcons’ pass game was in full effect, Matt Ryan threw for 3 TDs, and their defense picked off Manning twice and took away a fumble. Meanwhile the Lions were humiliated by the Arizona Cardinals (38-10) who had not won a game since Week 4. The Cardinals’ 4th ranked pass defense proved too much even for Detroit’s #1 ranked pass offense with three interceptions, two for TDs.
No surprise, Atlanta is favored to win this game. The spread is 4 points and the over/under is 50.5 points
Detroit’s inability to score points last weekend was certainly atypical. On average they score 23.6 points a game and have been very consistent about scoring more than 20 points. So at a minimum expect 20 points from Detroit. The Falcons average 26.5 points a game and consistently score at least 23 points. At the odds given the predicted score would be about 27-23. What makes this predicted score interesting is that while the Lions give up fewer yards on average, they allow many more points per game on average. The Falcons give up about 18 points per game but Detroit gives up an average of about 27 points.
Over the past six weeks Detroit has given up an average of 32 points. In that time frame the least Detroit has given up is 24 points and the most is 38 points. Over the last six games Atlanta has allowed an average of 19.3 points. Seems like the spread could be wrong but the game total could be spot on.
If there is any reason to pick Detroit this week it is that they are at home. Detroit has an awful home record of 2-4; however, Atlanta’s only two losses this season have been on the road. If Lions QB Matthew Stafford can shake off last week’s defeat then they might have a chance of an upset. Speaking of upsets, if you do want to bet against covering the spread, Detroit has had three of their last six games end in scores of 4 or less; Atlanta has had two of their last six end in a 4 point difference. Furthermore, at home this season Detroit has only had one game that ended with a scoring difference greater than 4 points.
However, the Falcons are also playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If Atlanta wins this week they are the #1 seed in the NFC and get home field advantage throughout the playoffs; that’s probably a little extra incentive for the Falcons. The odds seem to reflect season averages and these two teams are very similar in their strengths and weaknesses. But Atlanta has been getting the job done this season and more so lately while Detroit is on a losing streak. Atlanta’s strong defense should carry the day and the bet to cover the spread seems like a slightly better bet.
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