NFL

NFL Week 13 preview: Saints’ defence to stand firm against the Falcons, Rams to bounce back against the Cardinals

December 2, 2020

WITH just five weeks of what has been a thrilling 2020 NFL regular season to go, teams are gearing up to dig deep and push for the playoffs.

You won't find too much last-minute drama in the AFC North, AFC West, and NFC South which are all but resolved at this stage, but elsewhere, expect a wild season to get even wilder from here on in. Nat Coombs is on hand once again to talk us through his selections for Week 13.
 

Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints

Sunday December 6, 18:00 GMT
 

Two weeks ago, the Saints shut down Matt Ryan and the Falcons in a 24-9 win that helped reinforce the view held by many that New Orleans has the best defense in the NFL right now. With just 28 points given up over the past four games – albeit a run which includes last week’s ridiculous mismatch against Denver, but in turn includes holding Tom Brady and the Bucs to just three points – Dennis Allen, the Saints’ Defensive Co-ordinator is unsurpsringly garnering lots of attention for the increasing number of head coaching vacancies.

To see a Saints team defined by its defense as opposed to its offense is an unorthodox balance for the Drew Brees/Sean Payton era but right now it suits them perfectly. They’re not exactly misfiring with the ball – when the mercurial Alvin Kamara features in your line up that’s nigh on impossible – but they are toughing it out a little with back-up Taysom Hill deputising for the injured Brees. Hill’s been fine, and still retains his playmaking threat as a runner, so they’re landing blows, but they’re not at the same level without Brees. Given the stifling performances on the other side of the ball, this is more than manageable for them until their future Hall of Famer returns.

Atlanta come into the game with their confidence high after a barnstorming blowout of Las Vegas last week and I’d expect them to be more competitive offensively against the Saints than they were a few weeks back. Julio Jones and Todd Gurley – missing against the Raiders – are questionable, and whilst the Falcons will be enhanced with their return, neither is playing consistently to trouble this impressive New Orleans defense unduly.

The line is under the crucial number of three, and with that I see value in the Saints, in a game that will be closer than Week 11, but not that close. New Orleans, incidentally, are 7-0 both straight-up and ATS without Brees since the start of last season. 

Match odds: Falcons (5/4) Saints (7/10)
Handicap: Falcons +2.5 (10/11) Saints -2.5 (10/11)
Total points: Over 45.5 (10/11) Under 45.5 (10/11)
Tip: Saints -2.5 (10/11)
 

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Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams

Sunday December 6, 21:05 GMT

Two divisional rivals in need of bounce back wins after disappointing upsets last time out, both the LA Rams and the Arizona Cardinals will look at their Week 12 defeats to the 49ers and Patriots respectively as games they should have won and somehow threw away. LA’s defense was superb once again against San Francisco, and should cause the erratic Cardinals offense trouble, particularly if Jalen Ramsay is able to neutralise DeAndre Hopkins to a suitable degree.

Ramsay – who is shaking off a hip injury but should be good to go – is one of the very best corners in the game, and Kyler Murray may find it hard to get much of a passing game going as a result, particularly if veteran Larry Fitzgerald, who missed the loss to the Patriots is out again. New England had success limiting Murray on the ground, and if the Rams can follow in a similar fashion, it could be a long afternoon for the young QB.

Match odds: Cardinals (11/8) Rams (16/25)
Handicap: Cardinals +3 (5/6) Rams -3 (49/50
Total points: Over 48.5 (10/11) Under 48.5 (10/11)
Tip: Rams -3 (49/50

 

For all NFL Week 13 betting markets, click here

 

New York Jets vs Las Vegas Raiders

Sunday December 6, 18:00 GMT
 

Elsewhere, the Raiders have the best rebound-from-a-defeat spot in sports, facing the hapless Jets, who lurch into even more dysfunction. Las Vegas are still very much a playoff team, and offensively have far too much firepower for a woeful NY to keep up. The defeat to Atlanta included five turnovers and a huge number of penalties, both of which are unlikely to affect their performance this time around.

On its own Raiders -7.5 seems appealing but it could be worth teasing down below that key line of seven with Green Bay another team I think wins comfortably, if not necessarily covering the full cap, against Philly continuing where they left off against Chicago.

Match odds: Jets (16/5) Raiders (27/100)
Handicap: Jets +8 (10/11) Raiders -8 (10/11
Total points: Over 46.5 (10/11) Over 46.5 (10/11
Tips: Two-Team Tease: Raiders -4 (12/25) and Packers -5 (8/15)
 

Fourfold odds

Saints -2.5 (10/11), Rams -3 (49/50), Two-Team Tease: Raiders -4 (12/25) and Packers -5 (8/15) – 15/2

Check out the Nat Coombs Show podcast on ESPN right here.