New Orleans @ Atlanta + $100k predictor

New Orleans @ Atlanta

The Atlanta Falcons host the Saints in the Thursday night game desperate to get revenge for their only defeat of the season so far.

The Falcons have the best record in the NFL (10-1) but will be fired up as they look to get one over their long-standing divisional rivals. Most sides with that kind of season record would be concerned about ensuring home advantage for the playoffs, the Falcons want to get one over their NFC South rivals and end their mental hoodoo over them.

Since 2006 the Saints have dominated this rivalry, 11 games to two, and after inflicting the only defeat of the season they will be confident of another big win. A big win is now essential for the Saints. Anything other than a win on Thursday will see them mathematically cede their division title and cast them into wild-card territory.

New Orleans seem to be able to get under the skin of the Falcons and if they can pull off another win on Thursday night, they will pour doubt on this Atlanta team over the rest of the season. Despite losing their only match of the season on the road, Atlanta have looked sharper away in 2012 but a strong fan following means that Matt Ryan and his offense will operate under a lot of noise.

Our tip for tonight is Falcons receiver, Julio Jones, to score the first TD. He adjusted fantastically to take an 80-yard touchdown pass at the weekend and finished with a career-high 147 receiving yards. Back him at +800.

Despite their excellent start to the season this game looks like being the defining one of the season for the Falcons. Win it and they will take full control of the division and have huge confidence when taking on the ‘bigger’ teams. If they lose to the Saints it could, derail their season as doubts start to creep back in.

Crunch games don’t come much bigger in the NFC South; I’d back the Saints to prevail at the handily priced +155.

Elsewhere in the league, the Eagles and Cowboys find themselves bottom of a surprisingly competitive NFC East, as Washington and RGIII continue to become genuine division contenders. They play in the late game this Sunday and clashes between the pairing are always feisty. Two frenzied fan bases provide the backdrop to this game, with the loser unlikely to make the post season.

View the full schedule for week 13 here: NFL 2012 week 13

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