Saints can seize con­trol of South

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - BARRY WILNER

One of the NFL’s bet­ter ri­val­ries has plenty rid­ing on its lat­est in­stal­ment.

Saints-Fal­cons on Thurs­day night also is one of the bet­ter mid-week matchups on this year’s sched­ule.

New Or­leans leads the NFC South at 9-3, one game in front of Carolina and two games in front of At­lanta.

New Or­leans is a one­point choice over At­lanta. The Fal­cons badly need this one, but they’ve strug­gled in their spank­ing new Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium.

At­lanta’s play­off chances take an­other hit.

Saints, New Eng­land 28-24 (-11) at Mi­ami, Mon­day Pa­tri­ots night don’t have Gronk, tiny bit which closer. makes this a Best Seat­tle bet: (+3) Pa­tri­ots, at Jacksonville 33-10

pitch Rus­sell for MVP Wil­son award. is mak­ing Up­set Bal­ti­more spe­cial: (+7) ’Hawks, at Pitts­burgh 24-23

barely An­other pass. test Steel­ers will Steel­ers, Philadel­phia 17-13 (+2½) at Rams Af­ter antsy. loss, Calm Philly down. fans get­ting Ea­gles, 27-24

Min­nesota Vikings win (-3) here at Carolina es­tab­lishes them as NFC’s best. Sorry ... Panthers, 20-16

Oakland (+4) at Kansas City

AFC West mess starts get­ting set­tled. Chiefs, 22-20

Wash­ing­ton (+6) at Charg­ers Charg­ers do their part. Charg­ers, 30-20

Green Bay (-3½) at Cleve­land

Odds­mak­ers tempt­ing us with this line. We’ll bite. Packers, 23-11

San Fran. (+3) at Hous­ton

Nin­ers fans get­ting geeked by Garop­polo. But we like Hous­ton here. Texans, 20-13

N.Y. Jets (pick-em) at Den­ver

This line shows how far Bron­cos have fallen. Jets, 27-19

Ten­nessee (-3) at Ari­zona

Jacksonville, slipped here. Ti­tans won’t. Ti­tans, 21-20

Dal­las (-5) at N.Y. Gi­ants

Bye-bye Ben fac­tor makes us think this will be close. Cowboys, 23-20

Chicago (+6) at Cincin­nati

Ac­tu­ally thought about this as best bet. Bengals, 26-13

Detroit (OFF) at Tampa Bay

Loser here might soon start coach­ing search. Buccaneers, 17-16

Indy (OFF) at Buf­falo

Bills sur­vive this one, but play­off drought con­tin­ues. Bills, 13-10

Last week: Against spread, 8-7-1; straight up, 11-5

Sea­son to­tals: Against spread, 91-88-6; straight up, 121-70

Best bet: 8-5 against spread, 9-4 straight up

Up­set spe­cial: 8-5 against spread, 8-5 straight up

JOHN BAZEMORE/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS, FILE

Devonta Free­man and the At­lanta Fal­cons face the New Or­leans Saints Thurs­day.

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