Are the Atlanta Falcons great or lucky? The team with the best record in the NFC (10-1) has won by six or fewer points in four of its past five victories, including a one-point win last week. That's hardly the sign of dominance, but perhaps a sign of a team that has great ability to do just enough. It's hard to forget the famous Bill Parcells quote, "You are what your record says you are."
Still, it seems hard to regard the Falcons as a vastly superior team to the New Orleans Saints, tonight's opponent. New Orleans handed Atlanta its lone loss three weeks ago and has been one of the better teams in the league since its dreadful 0-4 start. The Saints are attempting to become only the second team in league history to make the playoffs after losing its first four games. The 1992 San Diego Chargers are the only example.
This is one of the best rivalries in the league. When they met in New Orleans, Saints players claimed members of the Falcons taunted ex-Falcon and current Saint Curtis Lofton during warm-ups. Fun words such as "classless" were tossed around. After the game, Saints linebacker Scott Shanle referred to the Falcons as "our little brothers." Just the type of stuff that makes this game even more intriguing.
According to ESPN Insider's PickCenter, fans are backing the Saints at a solid 58 percent rate. New Orleans hasn't been an underdog too often over the past few years, and people like grabbing them plus some points.
Spread: Opened Falcons -4.5, now Falcons -4
Total: Opened at 56, still 56