Free betting tips: David John's Thursday night NFL preview

The insanely talented Alvin Kamara of New Orleans
The insanely talented Alvin Kamara of New Orleans

David John says stick with the man in form and follow Alvin Kamara of New Orleans in the NFL on Thursday night.

New Orleans at Atlanta (Friday, 0125 GMT, Sky Sports Main Event and Action)

It is probably not much of a surprise to see last season’s Super Bowl runners-up Atlanta in the mix again for the play-offs but there are probably more than a few raised eyebrows that they currently trail the New Orleans Saints by two games in the NFC South.

Carolina are right in the mix too sandwiched in between the pair and with Atlanta and New Orleans to meet twice between now and Christmas Eve, divisional honours and a route through to meaningful action in January are still very much up for grabs.

Thursday could see the Saints put themselves in a very strong position with a victory on the road in Georgia and the layers make them narrow favourites giving up a 1.5-point start on the handicap.

The way they have evolved this year has been exciting to watch and after starting the campaign 0-2, they went on an eight-game tear-up founded on an effective running game and revamped defense.

Mark Ingram has been involved in the former for some years with varying degrees of success but the addition of rookie Alvin Kamara has energised the unit and given the offense a tremendously fresh dimension rather than simply relying on both the arm and savvy of quarterback Drew Brees.

Not that the latter is showing any signs of slowing down despite being in his late 30s but a change in emphasis is no bad thing in a league that will quickly punish a team unable to evolve.

Kamara’s numbers are astronomical and his first crack at the Falcons is on the back of five straight games with over 100 yards from scrimmage while his streak of outings with a touchdown now stands at six.

There has been much discussion over how virtually all the league whiffed on him in the Draft and allowed his talents to drop to the third round but he already looks a player of exceptionally rare ability and is a shoo-in for Offensive Rookie of the Year honours.

Slowing him down somehow will be a top priority for the hosts, who have taken a while themselves to get rolling in 2017 but seem to be mounting a challenge at the most relevant time.

A three-game winning run was halted last weekend by a very good Minnesota team as their much-vaunted defense gradually squeezed the life out of the Falcons, who scored only nine points with wide receiver Julio Jones limited to just two catches for 24 yards.

There was some better news as running back Devonta Freeman made his return against the Vikings after two games ruled out with a concussion while quarterback Matt Ryan averages almost 300 yards passing in his career against the Saints, has thrown 30 touchdown passes and guided his team to four victories from their last six meetings.

Sky Bet are running a free-bet offer on tonight's game
Sky Bet are running a free-bet offer on tonight's game

It suggests to me a return to form on offense after last week’s blip and Jones going up against this much-improved New Orleans secondary – which could see outstanding rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore back on the field – could be explosive.

The Saints get my vote as the more complete outfit and although the days of Brees throwing for 500 yards seem behind him, his experience at this time of year along with head coach Sean Payton remains vitally important for a team that still requires some seasoning with so many young players on the roster.

Recent history suggests whoever wins this game will go on and sweep the series and I fancy it is going to be the Saints who pull off the road win.

I am keen to side with Kamara in terms of a bet though until any rival shows they can slow him down on the ground or through the air and 5/6 for such an electrifying performer to score yet another touchdown is tantamount to printing money.

Prediction: New Orleans 28-23 Atlanta

Recommended bets: Thursday NFL

3pts Alvin Kamara to score a TD anytime v Atlanta at 5/6

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Posted at 1940 GMT on 05/12/17.

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