Falcons vs. Saints: Week 6 Thursday Picks

NFL Picks

Here are Will and Derek’s picks for the Week 6 Thursday night game. Picks for the remainder of the games will run on Friday.

(Home team in caps. Line per VegasInsider.com consensus.)

Atlanta (-3.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS



Derek: Naturally, I’d feel better about this pick if I knew the status of Julio Jones. Dan Quinn says Julio will play as normal, but it’s not like he has any incentive to tell a journalist the truth. If you saw Julio after he recovered Devonta Freeman’s fumble for a touchdown on Sunday, he looked 80 years old.

Still, the Saints are a mess. Once a team to trust at home, they now can’t be trusted anywhere. Their defense is truly horrendous, so it may not even matter if Julio is at full strength. According to Football Outsiders, the Saints D is the worst in the league.

Anything can happen in games between division rivals, but this could go the way of the Falcons-Texans game two weeks ago, when the Falcons had their starters on the bench in the third quarter. That is, unless Drew Brees can score a whole buncha points. I don’t think he’ll be able to keep up. Falcons cover.

Will: I find it sad that the Saints have fallen so far. I’m fond of their uniforms, I like Drew Brees, and I have nothing but pleasant memories of my visits to New Orleans. Alas, they’re a sorry 1-4, behind even the Tampa Bay Bucs, all but out of the playoff race with the Falcons and Carolina Panthers both undefeated and atop the NFC South. They have one of the worst defenses in the league and an offense that bears little resemblance to those that rampaged through the league for years. Memories of a magical Superdome are growing more distant by the day.

And yet, I hold out hope that that magic will return. It was just over nine years ago that the Saints defeated the Falcons in their first home game after Hurricane Katrina, buoyed by one of the greatest moments in my personal book of sports history.

The Saints forced a three-and-out on the Falcons’ opening drive, sacking Michael Vick and forcing a fumble that went out of play to set up fourth-and-10. Michael Koenen came on to punt for Atlanta. The ball was snapped. Steve Gleason, the man who has become the face of ALS, angled to his left and burst through the middle of the Falcons’ line. He extended both arms and laid out, targeting Koenen’s right foot. He blocked the kick clean, sending the ball skittering back toward the goal line. Defensive back Curtis Deloatch dove on the ball and fell into the end zone.

6-0, Saints. Pandemonium in the Superdome.

New Orleans went on to win, 23-3. It was but one game, but my god, what a game it was. It’s tired to say that New Orleans is a city defined by its spirit, its joie de vivre, yet I find myself leaning on that description because no other seems to fit. The moments that followed Gleason’s block capture that feeling as much as any second line can.

I say the Superdome has a little more magic in it. Maybe the Falcons will be the ones to pull it out. Geaux Saints.

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