Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Thursday NFL pick

SAINTS (8-2) at FALCONS (2-8)

Line: NO by 9.

Cote’s pick: NO 34-20.

TV: 8:25 p.m. Thursday, NFL Network (airing in South Florida).

NFL Week 12 launches with an episode of “What A Difference A Year Makes,” starring the Saints, who are sailing smoothly along after last season's Bountygate misery, and the Falcons, who are sinking in quicksand just a year after going 13-3. Drew Brees is 12-3 against Atlanta as a Saint, with 10 300-yard games, and should feast on a Falcons defense allowing 29.2 points per game. (He dropped 357 yards on his division rival in the season opener, won 23-17 by N'Awlins.) Across the way, Matt Ryan has nine interceptions during ATL's four-game losing streak. Falcons' only hope to keep it close is the pride to not be embarrassed at home and in front of a national audience. That incentive will make for a great effort; alas, it takes more than want-to against Mr. Brees.