Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots
Line: New England -7
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
When: Thursday, 11/18 at 8:20 p.m. ET
If Tennessee wasn’t on a six-game winning streak, New England would easily be the hottest team in the NFL.
The Patriots are on a four-game winning streak and three of those victories have come by at least 18 points. Their lone loss in the last six games came in overtime against Dallas on Oct. 17, but the Cowboys had to rally in the final minute to send the game to an extra period.
New England will be looking to build on a 45-7 thrashing of Cleveland when it travels to Atlanta for Thursday Night Football. The Falcons have lost two of their last three games, including a 43-3 setback at Dallas on Sunday.
Oddsmakers had New England slated at -3.5 in the look-ahead line, but the polar-opposite performances from both teams over the weekend led to a major adjustment. The Patriots have ballooned up to -7 at some shops, although WynnBET, The Westgate SuperBook and FanDuel were still at -6.5 early this morning.
Thursday’s total opened at 45.5 and has been bet up to 47 points. Arthur Smith’s team is +230 to +250 on the money line.
New England got off to a 1-3 start this season and followed it up with a three-point win over Houston, which did not give its fan base much confidence moving forward. However, the Patriots have responded with five wins in their last six games…and there has been nothing fluky about those wins.
They have covered the spread each time during their four-game winning streak, blowing out the Jets, Panthers and Browns in the process. New England scored on its first four possessions against Cleveland and went 9 of 11 on third down attempts. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones completed 19 of 23 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
Jones has completed 69.0 percent of his passes overall this season, throwing 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne have been his top targets, with both players going over 480 receiving yards.
Running back Damien Harris has rushed for 547 yards and seven touchdowns on 133 carries, averaging 4.1 yards per touch. He did not play last week due to a concussion, but he has cleared protocol and will play tonight.
New England’s offense got off to a slow start this year, but it is up to No. 15 in the NFL in yards per game (356.2). It will be facing an Atlanta defense that is No. 22, allowing 368.3 yards per game.
New England is now priced as a -280 favorite to make the playoffs, according to DraftKings. Atlanta has dropped to +450, so it needs to pick up a win on Thursday to stay in contention.
The Falcons have lost two of their last three games after winning three of their previous four. They’re winless both straight up and against the spread in three home games.
Atlanta got run out of Jerry World in a hurry last week. The Cowboys raced out to a 36-3 lead at halftime and held their opponent to just 214 total yards.
Another factor that could be influencing the early line movement in this game is the health of Atlanta running back Cordarrelle Patterson. He sprained his ankle in the loss to Dallas and will be a game-time decision tonight.
The Falcons have lacked explosive plays on offense this season, so Patterson’s potential absence could play a critical role in this game. He leads the rushing attack with 77 carries for 303 yards and two touchdowns—he is also the second-leading receiver with 39 grabs for 473 yards and five scores.
Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 2,274 yards. He enters Week 11 with a 15-to-8 TD-to-INT ratio. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts has caught a team-high 40 passes for 606 yards, averaging 15.1 yards per catch. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley will miss his fourth games in a row and his fifth of the season after stepping away from football to focus on his mental health.
Atlanta is No. 25 in the NFL offensively, averaging 324.2 yards per game. The Falcons are facing a New England defense that ranks sixth, allowing 328.0 yards. Despite the poor offense (Atlanta) and great defense (New England), both teams have been going ‘over’ the total.
Atlanta has gone ‘over’ in four of its last six games, despite last week’s game staying ‘under’ even with 39 points in the first half. New England has cashed the ‘over’ in five of its last six games. The Patriots have covered the spread in their last six games against Atlanta, but they have not met since 2017.
The pick: Atlanta +7
This could end up looking like a stupid bet, but giving seven points to Atlanta at home in this primetime spot is ludicrous. The Falcons are still in playoff contention and should be motivated coming off an embarrassing loss to Dallas. This is a flat spot for New England, as it is coming off a blowout win over Cleveland and it has a game against Tennessee on deck. It is also a road game on short rest for a rookie quarterback. The line opened at -3.5 last week…I just can’t get anywhere close to seven, even if Patterson is unable to go. The jump from -6.5 to -7 is obviously one of the most important line moves in the NFL, so I will gladly go with the home underdog.