The NFL Network has had a few duds on their Thursday Night Football schedule this year, but tonight’s game should be a good one.

5-6 New Orleans Saints at 10-1 Atlanta Falcons
Odds: Atlanta -3½ – Over/Under 55½

Prior to this year the Saints rarely lose two in a row since Drew Brees became the team’s quarterback; during that time Brees is 11-2 versus Atlanta with 29 touchdowns and a 100.6 passer rating. Brees is 22-12 ATS in the game following a defeat with New Orleans, and 8-2 ATS as an underdog in those games. On the other hand Matt Ryan is 22-12 ATS at home, and top division teams very rarely get swept; Ryan did throw for 411 yards and three touchdowns in the last game between these two teams.

New Orleans has won ten of the twelve last meetings but this year’s Saints team is not winning with the same regularity of Saints teams from those previous years.

Atlanta’s defense is inconsistent; they held Doug Martin and the Bucs to 50 yards rushing, yet gave up 137 yards to Arizona on the ground. Since the bye week the Falcons have forced just two turnovers in the last five games; on offense they have turned the ball over eight times in the last two games.

The Saints have gone back to their winning formula from previous years on defense: create turnovers in order to overcome lots of yardage. New Orleans has created seven turnovers in the last four games, though they rank dead last in yards allowed per game. What they need to do is hold on to the ball on offense; for them two turnovers equals a loss (like last week versus the 49ers), while one or none equals a win (like in their first game against Atlanta three weeks ago).

This looks like it should be a very good game, that could go either way.

New Orleans offense: 28.0 ppg (5th), 382 ypg (8th)
291 passing ypg (5th), 92 rushing ypg (27th)
14 giveaways (8th)

Atlanta offense: 26.7 ppg (8th), 386 ypg (6th)
298 passing ypg (2nd), 88 rushing ypg (28th)
16 giveaways (10th)

New Orleans defense: 27.6 ppg (28th), 455 ypg (32nd)
298 passing ypg (28th), 157 rushing ypg (32nd)
16 takeaways (25th)

Atlanta defense: 19.6 ppg (6th), 345 ypg (14th)
222 passing ypg (13th), 123 rushing ypg (22nd)
19 takeaways (10th)

Last Meeting: Three weeks ago Jimmy Graham catches 7 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints win 31-27.

Previous Meeting in Atlanta: Saints’ kicker John Kasay converts four field goals, including the game winner in overtime; New Orleans wins 26-23.

Odds: Falcons favored by 3½; point total of 53½

Prediction: Falcons 27, Saints 24

– final score: Falcons 23, Saints 13



College Football

Some great college football games on tap for this weekend; here are my picks:

Louisville +2½ vs Rutgers; Over 43
Kent State +6½ vs N Illinois; Over 60
UCLA +10 vs Stanford; Over 52 (1 unit)
Cincinnati -4½ (1 unit) vs UConn; Over 39
Pittsburgh -4½ (1 unit) vs USF; Under 45
Oklahoma -7½ vs TCU; Over 63
Texas +11 (2 units) vs Kansas State; Over 65½
Baylor +4½ vs Oklahoma State; Over 81½ (1 unit)
Kansas +21 vs West Virginia; Over 68 (1 unit)
Tulsa -1 vs UCF; Over 57
Georgia +8 (2 units) vs Alabama; Under 51 (1 unit)
Florida State -13½ (3 units) vs Georgia Tech; Under 61 (2 units)
Wisconsin +2½ (1 unit) vs Nebraska; Under 48

– final scores:
Louisville 20, Rutgers 17
N Illinois 44, Kent State 37 2OT
Stanford 27, UCLA 24
Cincinnati 34, UConn 17
Pitt 27, USF 3
Oklahoma 24, TCU 17
Kansas St 42, Texas 24
Baylor 41, Oklahoma St 34
West Virginia 59, Kansas 10
Tulsa 33, UCF 27
Alabama 32, Georgia 28
Florida State 21, Georgia Tech 15
Wisconsin 70, Nebraska 31


This Day In Patriots History


November 29, 1964:
Boston Patriots 34, Houston Oilers 17 at Jeppesen Stadium

Ross O’Hanley returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown, Nick Buoniconti, Tom Addison and Don Webb each also had a pick, and Len St. Jean had two sacks as the Pats defense came up big in the win at Houston.

Babe Parilli had a big day, going 20-36 for 336 yards and threw touchdowns, including an 80-yard TD strike to Art Graham to open up the second half and give the Pats a 24-10 lead. After Houston cut the lead to seven Parilli connected on a 20-yard touchdown to Jim Colclough to restore the two-score lead.

Graham finished with 104 yards receiving, and Gino Cappelletti had six catches for 88 yards.


November 29, 1970:
New England Patriots 14, Buffalo Bills 10 at The Rockpile

John Mazurr gets his first win as head coach of the Patriots! Ron Sellers scored on a 10-yard pass from Mike Taliaferro, and Jim Nance scored the game-winning points on a one-yard plunge.


November 29, 1979:
Miami Dolphins 39, New England Patriots 24 at the Orange Bowl

Steve Grogan threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, but Miami took advantage of six New England turnovers to get the win. Stanley Morgan had five catches for 124 yards and a touchdown and Harold Jackson had five catches for 105 yards and a TD for the Pats.


November 29, 1981:
St. Louis Cardinals 27, New England Patriots 20 at Schaefer Stadium

Tony Collins, Vagas Ferguson and Sam Cunningham each had a touchdown run for the Patriots, and Stanley Morgan had four receptions for 94 yards.


November 29, 1987:
Philadelphia Eagles 34, New England Patriots 31 at Sullivan Stadium

Paul McFadden‘s 38-yard field goal gives the Iggles an overtime victory.

Tom Ramsey threw for 402 yards and three touchdowns, despite being sacked six times by the Reggie White-led Philadelphia defense. Tony Collins had 11 receptions for 100 yards and 24-yard touchdown catch for the Pats.


November 29, 1992:
Atlanta Falcons 34, New England Patriots 0 at the Georgia Dome

Scott Zolak was sacked five times (including three by Darion Conner), and was intercepted twice by Deion Sanders as the Falcons dominated the Pats.

Along with the two picks the Patriots fumbled the ball five times, losing two of those drops, and were held to just 105 total net yards. Zolak was making just his 4th NFL start, and though he had won the previous two games it seemed as if Atlanta had enough film on him to take advantage of some tendencies. Jon Vaughn led the Pats with 70 yards rushing.


November 29, 1998:
New England Patriots 25, Buffalo Bills 21 at Foxboro Stadium

The Patriots came from behind to win on a one-yard touchdown pass from Drew Bledsoe to Ben Coates. The win for the Pats overshadowed a fine performance by Doug Flutie (339 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions) in a game that was slowed down by a combined 19 penalties for 187 yards.

Coates finished with 10 catches for 70 yards, Terry Glenn had 8 receptions for 104 yards, and Bledsoe also had touchdown passes to Robert Edwards and Derrick Cullors.



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November 29, 1933:
John Mayall was born in Chester county, England

November 29, 1941:
Denny Doherty, singer of the Mamas And The Papas was born in Mississauga, Ontario

November 29, 1947:
Ronnie Montrose, guitarist of the Edgar Winter Group and Montrose was born in San Francisco

November 29, 1951:
Barry Goudreau, guitarist of Boston was born

November 29, 1980:
John Lennon‘s Double Fantasy album was released

November 29, 1996:
Tiny Tim died when he suffered a heart attack on stage

November 29, 2001:
George Harrison died; coincidentally it was on this same date in 1969 that Something became the number one single, which was the first A-side single released by the Beatles that Harrison wrote





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