NFL Gridiron Guide: Take the Saints on Week 12 Thursday Night Football

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees looks to

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees looks to pass during the first half of a game against the Jets. (Nov. 3, 2013) (Credit: AP)

SAINTS (8-2) at FALCONS (2-8), 8:25 p.m.

Line: Saints by 7.5; O/U: 53

TV: NFL Network

It's amazing how quickly things can change in the NFL.

Teams can look like a Super Bowl contender one week, and a cellar dweller the next.

Look no further than exhibits A & B: New Orleans and Atlanta.

Was it only a year ago that the Saints missed the playoffs after a 7-9 season and were without coach Sean Payton, who was suspended because of the Bountygate scandal? Weren't the Falcons supposed to be a Super Bowl contender this season after losing by four points to the 49ers in the 2013 NFC Championship Game?

Circumstances have changed pretty fast for both clubs. A quick look at the teams' records will tell you that.

Atlanta was 13-2 overall at home from Nov. 20, 2011, through this Sept. 15. However, the decimated Falcons are 1-3 overall and against the spread (ATS) in their last four home games since. Atlanta is 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 NFC South contests.

The Saints -- 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 games as a favorite of eight or fewer points -- are 8-4 ATS in their last 12 NFC South matchups. Maybe New Orleans looks ahead to next Monday night's key game at Seattle (which could decide the NFC's No. 1 seed). But I can't back the Falcons, even at home.