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New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

Over/Under: 48.5

Kickoff: 5:20 p.m. PT


It’s been at least several years since a matchup consisting of football’s most underrated rivalry contained an over/under in the 40’s. However, the oddsmakers have reason to dip that low in their palette for the final Saints-Falcons meeting of 2019.

When these two NFC South residents last squared off only a few weeks ago, the result was a decisive under (not to mention one of the season’s bigger upsets). And that revolved around Atlanta’s impressive lockdown of Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints offense, holding them to a mere nine points, on the road no less. It was actually New Orleans’ lowest point total in a game at the Superdome in the 14 years Brees has been the franchise’s QB1.

Obviously, though, it’s not as simple as that. First of all, the recent timeframe in which Brees and Co. most recently saw them — less than three weeks ago — only serves to help the Saints in terms of familiarity and figuring the opposition out. And Brees wasn’t even bad in that first encounter, completing 32 of 45 passes for almost 300 yards.

That was just another quality performance in a long line of them, as the future Hall-of-Famer typically fares well against the Dirty Birds. Brees has logged more than 300 yards per game in his 27 assignments dealing with Atlanta as a member of the Saints. Additionally, his offense averaged 26 points in those contests.

Just as important as anything, Brees is coming off one of his highest-rated games of the campaign last week, illustrating that he’s also back to full health and in rhythm after returning from injury a month ago. Don’t look for an encore from Atlanta’s defensive unit, especially after they were walloped last week by the Tamp Bay Buccaneers.

The 40-year-old’s counterpart, Matt Ryan, is certainly a familiar foe, as the two quarterbacks have faced more than any other pair of signal-callers in NFL history.

Ryan, too, has a notable track record against tonight’s adversary. For his career, the 12-year veteran has registered a 98.6 passer rating in 22 outings opposite New Orleans, and just like with Brees, that type of stellar production has led to higher scoring totals. In Ryan’s 22 dates with the Saints, his squad averaged 25 points.

Furthermore, we’re getting Ryan in his most comfortable environment. He’s notched a considerably higher lifetime passer rating at home (98.1) compared to on the road (91.9) and he’s also put up a higher such mark in prime time (96.9) than during the day (94.4) as well.

There might be some concern over the status of Ryan’s top target Julio Jones (shoulder), but reports indicate he’s more likely than not to suit up. Either way, I also like youngster Russell Gage to be a factor. It’s also worth pointing out that Jones would draw nemesis cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) at less than 100 percent.

I’m buying the half-point here to be protected in the event of a 27-21/31-17 final and I recommend everyone else does the same for this second straight Thanksgiving night meeting between two potent offenses. Play: OVER 48 (-120)

Last Week: Lions-Redskins Under 41 (WIN)

Zylbert’s 2019 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 8-5, +2 units

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

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