I’m running pretty short on time during the week, so I’m going to break from (three weeks) tradition and give my Thursday pick today, followed by the rest of the picks this weekend. Here goes:
New Orleans (+3.5) over ATLANTA
I’ve had a theme in the past few weeks that involves picking the Saints as underdogs and against the Falcons as favorites. I’ve covered in almost every situation, and I think this game will be the same. The following are the Falcons’ scoring differential in each game since Week 4:
Week 4: +2 (Carolina)
Week 5: +7 (at Washington)
Week 6: +3 (Oakland)
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: +13 (at Philadelphia)
Week 9: +6 (Dallas)
Week 10: -4 (at New Orleans)
Week 11: +4 (Arizona)
Week 12: +1 (at Tampa Bay)
Aside from the week after their bye, against a struggling Philly team, all of the Falcons’ games since Week 4 have been decided by 7 points or less. While this is a strong attribute of a winning team, and a credit to the Falcons for being able to find ways to win all these games, I don’t believe this is sustainable week in and week out. Eventually, they will drop another close game here and there, especially as they start to clinch a playoff spot, first round bye, and/or home field throughout the playoffs.
Atlanta has all but locked up the NFC South, with a four game lead over the next closest team (Tampay Bay) and a five game lead over the Saints. Meanwhile, the Saints are fighting for their playoff lives. A loss and they may be out of the running. A win and they’re back in the wild card picture.
At this point, I think the Saints are hungrier and more desperate for win than the Falcons. Although the game is being played in Atlanta, it is still in a dome not too far from New Orleans. Lastly, the Saints have already proven the ability to beat the Falcons this season.
Last Friday I went to see Argo. I really enjoyed the movie and think it was extremely well done given the fact that it’s based on a true story, which makes the ending pretty predictable for anyone who knows the historical facts. Even still, I was at the edge of my seat throughout the movie in anticipation of how the film makers would choose to portray the story.
Without giving too much away, the movie stars Ben Affleck as a CIA agent named Tony Mendez who is sent to Tehran, Iran in 1980 to help a group of American diplomats escape from hiding in Iran and return to the United States. With the Iranian government keeping close watch throughout the city and interrogating anyone trying to leave the country via the airport, Mendez and his CIA team have devised a plan to create a fake Middle Eastern sci-fi movie that will use the diplomats as part of the fake film crew in hopes of leaving on a plane as soon as the team is finishing ‘scoping out locations’ for the movie.
There is a great scene about mid-way through the movie where Affleck’s character is told by the Canadian Ambassador – whose home is used as a hideout for the Americans – that the mission has been aborted and he should basically bail on them and head to the airport by himself. It is the night before Mendez and the diplomats had planned to make their escape, and the diplomats have just finished being quizzed on their assumed identities and are spending some time to relax and, in a way, celebrate freedom that could potential be less than 24 hours away. Upon hearing the news Mendez is clearing torn and upset. A montage ensures which shows the diplomats drinking and laughing, while Mendez grabs a bottle of liquor and heads to his hotel room.
Set to the music of Led Zeppelin (“When the Levee Breaks”), it’s a great scene that captures a myriad of emotions present in the characters (hope and relief in the diplomats; disappointment, anger, and sadness in Mendez), as well as evokes conflicting emotions within the viewer as well. I was able to find a clip of most of the scene (sans Ben Affleck crushing liquor on a hotel bed). Check it out: