The New England Patriots are surging behind a four-game winning streak, and they’ll be looking to continue that momentum at the expense of the mercurial and unpredictable Atlanta Falcons when the pair collide for Week 11’s installment of Thursday Night Football.
The Patriots pummelled the Cleveland Browns 45-7 at the Foxborough on Sunday, clinching their sixth win of the season to move just behind the 6-3 Buffalo Bills in the AFC East standings. The Atlanta Falcons, meanwhile, were eviscerated by the Dallas Cowboys in a 43-3 beatdown at the AT&T Stadium, marking their fifth loss of the season as they slip to a 4-5 record and bottom place in the NFC South.
Given the contrasting fortunes of both these teams, it’s easy to understand why sportsbooks fancy the Patriots to come through with the victory. Early NFL odds and lines opened with the Patriots laying 5.5 points to the Falcons and the game total on 47 points – both markets are up from lookahead lines of Patriots -4 against the spread and 46 points for the game total.
New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
Thursday, November 18, 2021 – 8:20 PM EST at Mercedes Superdome
Mac Jones Continues to Defy Expectations
From the moment Mac Jones was selected at No.15 overall in the 2021 NFL draft by the New England Patriots, he drew comparisons to Tom Brady. His stature, look, and demeanor were some of the glaring similarities that struck immediately. Now, halfway through his first season, and those comparisons are growing more audible and frequent and go beyond his appearance. The football bears an uncanny resemblance to his predecessors, and coach Bill Belichick is likely a big reason as he nurtured Brady on his path to becoming the greatest football player of all time.
Mac Jones threw three touchdowns as he led the Patriots to their fourth-straight victory over the Browns. The Patriots closed as the 2.5-point home chalk on the NFL odds board, but they absolutely smashed the line in the 38-point margin of victory.
Jones went 19 of 23 for 198 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Rookie rushing back Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 100 yards on 20 carries for two scores while wide receiver Kendrick Bourne put up 98 yards on four receptions and a touchdown.
Falcons Blown Away in Dallas
A week after the Falcons stage a come-from-behind win over the New Orleans Saints at the Caesar’s Superdome to improve to 4-4 SU (or .500 for the second time this season), they fall flat on their faces in a wildly lopsided 43-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Granted the Cowboys were coming off their own beatdown the week prior, so they were bound to be keen to bounce back convincingly. But that doesn’t excuse the manner in which the Falcons lost.
The Falcons are an impossible team to get a handle on from week to week, but their latest loss was the worst this season. It was the biggest margin of defeat (40) and the lowest number of points scored (3) by an offense that clearly had no pulse on the day.
Kyle Pitts led the team with 60 yards on four receptions while Matt Ryan went 9 of 21 for 117 yards and two interceptions. Ryan was so out of sync with his offense that the game snowballed out of control early. Arthur Smith decided to bench Ryan in favor of backup Josh Rosen, but he didn’t fare much better than his veteran counterpart. Rosen went 1 of 6 for 14 yards and an interception.
It wasn’t just the offense that let Smith down. His defense imploded right before his eyes. Prescott faced little pressure in the pocket and had tons of time to shred the defense as he led the Cowboys on five touchdown drives.
NFL Predictions and Picks
The quick turnaround this week can be considered mercy for the Falcons who were left reeling on Sunday. Turning their attention to a Thursday Night Football game will force them to put the ugly loss to Dallas quickly behind them. There’s no point in crying over spilled milk, so they say.
Next up is another tough customer in the New England Patriots – a side that is rounding out into form down the stretch and boasts one of the league’s best coaching minds. Following New England’s win over Cleveland – a team many top-rated sportsbooks had as a potential Super Bowl 56 contender this season – the line quickly jumped up from -4 to -5.5 as early betting poured in on the Patriots.
If this trend continues, it’s possible this line will swell further. Some shops are already starting to show 6 on the NFL odds board, so for those looking to back the Patriots, don’t prevaricate and grab the line before it hits the key number of 6.
Now, it’s worth noting that the very unpredictable nature of the Falcons makes an upset impossible to rule out. Plus, after unimaginable humiliation, the Falcons will be keen to atone for their mistakes. Hence, backing the Falcons to cover as the home underdogs is worth considering. If that’s your strategy for this game, waiting to see if you can get a higher number later in the week might be an option before settling on your ATS NFL picks.
Having said that, the Falcons defense is flimsy, Ryan is unreliable, Josh Rosen is even less reliable as a backup, and the Falcons offense blows hot and cold from week to week. Belichick has faced Ryan enough times to know how to get after the quarterback and thwart the Falcons offense. Dare it be said, but the Falcons could be looking at another blowout loss.
NFL Picks: Patriots -5.5 (-110) with DraftKings