For one night only, Monday Night Football becomes Saturday Night Football, as we conclude the 2012 MNF series with a lopsided affair between the (12-2) Atlanta Falcons and the (4-10) Detroit Lions.
Opening kickoff for this NFC South vs. NFC North showdown is scheduled to kickoff at Ford Field in Detroit, MI, beginning at 8:40 p.m. EST (7:40 p.m. CST) live on ESPN.
According to the latest NFL odds, the Falcons [-4] remain a steady favorite over the Lions [+4] by two safeties. The OVER/UNDER is set at a combined total of 50½ points and the straight-up betting lines go as follow: Atlanta Falcons [-200] vs. Detroit Lions [+170].
The Falcons come into the penultimate week of the season with an 8-5-1 against the spread (ATS) record. This is in part due to the fact that the Dirty Birds have struggled as of late in ATS wagers.
Although Atlanta is 4-1 after accumulating more than 350 total yards in its previous ballgame, and 9-4 in its last 13 games in December, there are some concerning numbers to consider.
Above all, there are two things that standout the most: 1. Matt Ryan and the Falcons have a tendency to play down to the level of their competition and 2. ATL gets complacent after victories.
This is evident by the fact that the Falcons are: 2-5 versus opponents with losing records, 1-4 following an ATS win, 1-6 following straight-up wins of more than 14 points, and a whopping 0-7 after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game.
And if those numbers weren’t concerning enough, there are additional stats that indicate that Atlanta simply doesn’t matchup well against the Lions.
Out of the seven major statistical categories recorded, the Lions are better than the Falcons in five facets of the game including: Total yards gained, yards allowed, time of possession, Red Zone accuracy, and special teams.
So, does this all translate into a Lions victory either straight-up, ATS or otherwise?
Well, maybe not so fast.
The Lions come into the NFL week 16 with an over ATS record of 5-9-0, which of course, immediately raises a red flag. From an ATS-trend point of view, much like the Falcons, there are plenty of deterring stats for a Detroit bet.
But before we get to the bad stuff, let’s look at the one good thing that can be said about betting on the Lions tonight. Matthew Stafford & Co. come in with a 4-0 ATS record after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game.
Unfortunately that’s where it ends, as it’s all downhill from there. Detroit enters this week: 8-17-1 ATS in their last 26 games after allowing less than 150 passing yards in their previous game, 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating less than 90 rushing yards rushing in their previous game and just 3-9 in their last 12 games on fieldturf.
Now that we know how each team has performed and how they matchup, let’s take a look at the general consensus going on in the betting world. As far as the wagering activity is concerned, all the action appears to be headed in one direction.
With less than a few hours before kickoff, 67 percent of the betting population is taking the Falcons at -4 and just 33 percent was registered for the Lions. That’s 2,014 out of the 3,007 people surveyed that expressed in one way or another that they had invested money on the road team tonight.
Furthermore, NFL betting experts in Las Vegas certainly agree with those sentiments. At the present time, 76 percent of betting NFL specialists believe the Falcons will cover at -4 compared to an anemic 24 percent in favor of the Lions even with a 4-point cushion.
In my opinion, I would say that tonight’s game will be a great barometer as to whether the Falcons are real Super Bowl contenders or pretenders.
If ATL can come away with a convincing victory over the Lions at home tonight, one has to believe they will at least be in the mix come playoff time. Considering I picked them to go far in last year’s postseason, I’m going to have to side with the Dirty Birds in this one.
- NFL Picks: Atlanta Falcons [-4]
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