Season record straight up: 116-59-1 .663
Last week: 10-6
New Orleans (5-6) at Atlanta (10-1) 8:20 P.M.
I know the Saints beat the Falcons 31-27 in Week 10 after the Falcons had a 10-0 lead, but to me the Falcons are the better team. I'm picking them.
I think this is a huge game for the Falcons because they know that even though they're likely to win their division and get a first-round bye in the playoffs, they need to win a game like this.
The big two stats that jump out at me are that the Falcons are 31-4 at home with Matt Ryan at QB, and that two of his losses were against the Saints in 2010 and 2011. If he's going to be considered a truly elite quarterback, he needs to lead his team to a victory against the Saints.
I'm not here to say Matt Ryan is the best QB in the NFL. He's not. But he's close. I think one of the problems the Falcons offense has faced is that when they get a lead on a team they don't keep piling the points on.
If you watch the Patriots, they get a lead, and they keep going. Even when they're up 21 points, they still throw the ball. I think with the Falcons sometimes they get away from their game plan once they have the lead, and that allows teams to get back into games against them.
This week, against a perpetually bad Saints defense, I think the Falcons will keep the pressure on all game long.
I've admired the heart shown by the Saints since their 0-4 start, but the discussion of them as a playoff team needs to stop. Maybe next year they'll get back there. It's going to be too hard for that to happen now.
Who will win this week's Thursday night NFL game?
When your defense is 30th against the pass and 32nd against a run, your fate has already been sealed. You have issues there, and everybody knows it. For all the points that Drew Brees can put up with that offense, it's the defense that is constantly letting them down.
The margin of victory for the Falcons at home this year has been six (Denver), two (Carolina), three (Oakland), six (Dallas) and four (Arizona). The numbers don't lie. They haven't won by more than a touchdown at home this year. That's dangerous.
It means their home-field advantage is good for them, but it's not dominant for them. That needs to change because if they want to be considered a Super Bowl contender they need to step on the throats of their opponents when they're in a vulnerable position.
That's why I'm going Falcons. I think they know how important this game is for them, and they're going to have an impressive game on offense.
I think they're running the ball better with Jacquizz Rodgers getting more touches in open space, Julio Jones is healthy again and that allows Roddy White to get open even more. You know they've got old reliable Tony Gonzalez finding the seams over the middle too.
As long as the defense can slow down the Saints offense, I think the Falcons should win this game.
If the Falcons don’t win this game in a convincing manner then I'll have my doubts about them heading into the playoffs. Great teams need dominant wins at home. This needs to be that dominant win for them. I think a two-touchdown victory is dominant enough.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com along with his talented staff of writers. He also writes a lot about the NFL at TJRSports.com, so check him out there as well! You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport, too.