Patriots look to keep rolling at Atlanta

Recency bias is at its worst when it comes to the NFL. 

Because the NFL is the most popular sport and we have a week between games, we place a huge importance on each game. If a team wins big, you will hear about how great they are all week. A team that gets blown out will get ripped for a week. And heaven help you if you’re a quarterback who doesn’t make a tackle

That means the New England Patriots-Atlanta Falcons point spread for Thursday was ripe for an overreaction. The Patriots are 6.5-point favorites at BetMGM

The last time we saw each team, they had much different results. The Patriots destroyed the Cleveland Browns 45-7. The Falcons fell behind 36-3 to the Dallas Cowboys on the way to a 43-3 loss that could have been much worse. 

It’s not surprising that the Patriots and their rookie quarterback Mac Jones have been a hot topic of conversation since the Browns win. They’re a Super Bowl contender and a hot bet. Jones is being anointed as a star

How many times this season have we seen a team get all the attention after a win and then flop the following week? It’s not like the Falcons were terrible before the Cowboys game. Matt Ryan was playing better than you realize. The Falcons had won three of four. The Dallas loss halted any and all momentum. Still, they’re not on the lowest tier of NFL teams. 

This is when the NFL fools us. It’s a week-to-week league. The best teams aren’t that much better than the worst ones, and traveling for a Thursday game adds a challenge (ask the Baltimore Ravens last week). It’s not going to be a popular side, but taking the Falcons make sense. Just because it makes no sense at all based on last week. 

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has played well during a four-game winning streak. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has played well during a four-game winning streak. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

Here’s the first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday: 

How about any prop bets? 

The one thing Bill Belichick has always done better than anyone is taking away the thing you do best. Sometimes pinpointing what Belichick will try to take away can be difficult, but it would seem the most obvious target is rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. He’s easily the best playmaker Atlanta has. Taking under 63.5 receiving yards seems like the right play. 

On the other side, the passing total for Mac Jones has dipped to 250.5 and that’s still too high. He has hit 250 yards in one of his last six games. He has played well but the Patriots aren’t a high-volume passing team and really won’t be if they get a big lead early. The under should hit. 

What’s on the NBA schedule? 

There are six games, and a few intriguing ones. Thursday night should be a good test for the Washington Wizards, who are off to a great start. They travel to face a very tough Miami Heat team. A road win on the second night of a back-to-back would be impressive. The Heat are 7.5-point favorites, and that seems a bit high. 

The Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets hook up in a game that should have been a great matchup between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, but Embiid has been out due to COVID-19 and isn’t expected back Thursday and the 76ers are 7.5-point underdogs. 

Is there any college football? 

There is one game and it probably won’t be close: Louisville plays at Duke, which is having a rough season. Louisville is a 19.5-point favorite. 

What’s the best bet? 

It seems that the Falcons-Patriots line will get to 7 before kickoff. Keep an eye on it and if you can get a full touchdown on the Falcons, that’s a solid play. 

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