The New Orleans Saints have been on a major roll since the opening week of the season.
They lost that game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they had to struggle the following week to beat the Cleveland Browns, but the Saints have been playing impeccable football since that victory.
They are only team to beat the Los Angeles Rams, and they are coming off a one-sided blowout win over the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
A strong argument can be made that the Saints (9-1) are the best team in the NFL at this point and that if they can sustain what they have done in their final six games, they will have home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The Saints are dominating on offense the way few teams have ever played in the NFL. They have scored 40 points or more five times this season, including three straight games against the Rams, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles in which they have scored 45 points or more.
The offensive success begins with 39-year-old quarterback Drew Brees, who appears to be on track to win the league's Most Valuable Player award. Brees has completed 76.9 percent of his passes, and that sensational accuracy has led to a 25-1 TD-interception percentage.
There is no way head coach Sean Payton or offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael could have anticipated that kind of performance from Brees this year.
Along with sensational performances from running back Alvin Kamara (617 rushing yards, 510 receiving yards, 10 total TDs) and wide receiver Michael Thomas (82 receptions, 1,042 yards, 8 TDs), the Saints are getting sensational work from its offensive line.
That group has been the backbone of the offense, and the Saints may not be slowing down any time soon, including this game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Atlanta (4-6) has often played well into the fourth quarter, but Dan Quinn's team does not know how to finish games. Matt Ryan (3,306 passing yards, 22-4 TD-interception ratio) is one of the best passers in the game and he has one of the league's most talented receivers in Julio Jones (73 receptions for 1,158 yards, 3 TDs) along with Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu. However, the Falcons have regularly fallen apart when the game is on the line.
The team that made it all the way to the Super Bowl following the 2016 season has demonstrated just how difficult it is to sustain winning in the NFL.
The Saints are 12.5-point favorites in this game, per OddsShark, and they have an unbeatable aspect to their game. While we see the Saints continuing their winning ways, that's just too much of an impost and the Falcons will get the cover.
NFL Week 12 Lines, Total and Predictions (odds and totals provided by OddsShark)
Thursday, November 22
Chicago Bears (-3, 43.5) at Detroit Lions: Lions 13, Bears 10
Washington Redskins (+7, 40.5) at Dallas Cowboys: Redskins 24, Cowboys 23
Atlanta Falcons (+12.5, 60) at New Orleans Saints: Saints 38, Falcons 27
Sunday, November 25
Cleveland Browns (+3, 47.5) at Cincinnati Bengals: Bengals 27, Browns 16
Seattle Seahawks (+3.5, 47.5) at Carolina Panthers: Panthers 34, Seahawks 28
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3, 37) at Buffalo Bills: Bills 18, Jaguars 10
Oakland Raiders (+10.5, 43) at Baltimore Ravens: Ravens 37, Raiders 17
San Francisco 49ers (+3.5, 54.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bucs 31, Niners 20
New York Giants (+5.5, 46) at Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles 27, Giants 24
New England Patriots (-9.5, 46) at New York Jets: Patriots 38, Jets 10
Arizona Cardinals (+12.5, 45.5) at Los Angeles Chargers: Chargers 30, Cardinals 14
Miami Dolphins (+7.5, 51) at Indianapolis Colts: Colts 30, Dolphins 22
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3, 46.5) at Denver Broncos: Steelers 30, Broncos 22
Green Bay Packers (+3.5, 47.5) at Minnesota Vikings: Vikings 30, Packers 27
Monday, November 26
Tennessee Titans (+6, 41) at Houston Texans: Texans 28, Titans 12
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
A look at the NFC East standings reveals that the division is devoid of power teams.
The Washington Redskins (6-4) hold a one-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) as the two teams prepare to compete at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving Day.
The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are a shell of the team they were a year ago when they dominated nearly every opponent through the majority of the season. They found a way to raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy even though starting quarterback Carson Wentz suffered an ACL injury and the Eagles had to turn to backup Nick Foles.
Wentz is back under center this year, but the Eagles are a 4-6 team and are coming off a miserable 48-7 loss to the Saints.
They should be able to handle the last-place New York Giants at home, but the Eagles don't have any particular area that they can count on to lead them to victory this year.
The Giants hit rock-bottom at the season's midway point when they fell to 1-7 and Eli Manning had turned into an old man at the quarterback position. The Giants have responded with back-to-back wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to stop the bleeding, but wins over tail-enders does not mean New York has turned the corner.
The Eagles know that if they can pressure Manning, they might force mistakes. Defensive end Michael Bennett leads the Eagles with 5.5 sacks, and he is joined by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox with 4.0 sacks.
The Giants have potential skill-position dominance with rookie running back Saquon Barkley (728 rushing yards, 540 receiving yards) and wideout Odell Beckham Jr. (932 yards, 5 TDs), and we see New York playing well enough to stay within the 5.5-point spread.
One of the more popular regular-season prop bets available to professional football handicappers concerns the first touchdown scorer in an NFL game.
For this prop, we turn to Oddschecker and the Washington-Dallas game on Thanksgiving Day.
The website lists Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott as the odds-on favorite at 2-5 to score the first touchdown in the game followed by Redskin ball-carrier Adrian Peterson at 5-4.
While a strong argument can be made for either of those players, we prefer not to go with favorites in this category. The risk-reward ratio is not worth it when the goal is a big payoff and a high excitement level.
In addition to those two headliners, Cowboys wideout Cole Beasley is listed at 7-4, while Washington tight end Jordan Reed comes into the game at 9-4.
Our choice is Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott at odds of 7-2. The Cowboys offense has come alive in back-to-back victories over the Eagles and Falcons, and Prescott has run for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Prescott will not hesitate when he gets an opportunity near the goal line, and this appears to be a great spot for him.