Saints vs Falcons, Louisville vs Rutgers, Honey Badger to the draft, Nets/Celtics brawl, Duke dumps Ohio State, FIFA POY Finalists + Free Play for Thursday, November 29, 2012

Saints vs Falcons preview

Week 13 of the NFL kicks off tonight with the Saints/Falcons from the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are -3.5 point favorites with the total steady at 55 1/2. The Saints handed the Falcons their only loss of the season three weeks ago in New Orleans, winning 31-27 stopping Atlanta four time from the one in the final minute. The Saints have won their last three trips in, all by three points. New Orleans is 5-1 when they score at least 28 points, 0-5 when they don’t. Five of the last six games in the series have been decided by four points or less. The last three Falcons games have been decided by four points or less and their five home wins this year have all come by six points or less. Matt Ryan is 41-5 straight up at home since being drafted by Atlanta. Tough game to call.

Louisville vs Rutgers preview

Thursday night’s college football offering has Big East Conference and BCS Bowl implications as 9-2 Louisville travels to 9-2 Rutgers to face the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers opened as a -2.5 point favorite but has been bet up to Knights -3.5 with the total unchanged from the 43.5 opener. Louisville has lost two straight since opening 9-0. They’ll be without their best player, running back Senorice Perry and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played the second half last week with a broken left wrist (non-throwing hand) but is expected to play. Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova is also probable. The home side has won and covered five of the last seven in the series. The over is 3-1 in Louisville’s last four. The under is 5-2 in Rutger’s last seven. Kickoff is at 7:30 EST on ESPN. Weather is mostly fair with a game time temperature of 39 that will feel like 32 with wind chill.

Tyrann Mathieu will enter the NFL draft

The “Honey Badger” is apparently done trying to play college football and will enter the NFL draft. Tyrann Mathieu was last year’s college football Defensive Player of the Year and a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011 but was dismissed from the team in August for failing multiple drug tests. At 5’9″ and 176 pounds, Mathieu does not have the size to be your prototypical defensive pick. Mel Kuiper Jr. projects him going in the third or fourth round.

Rondo facing possible suspension after brawl

Rajon Rondo faces possible disciplinary action from the lead after instigating a brawl in the second quarter of last night’s 95-83 Nets win at Boston. Rondo went after Nets Kris Humphries after the Brooklyn power forward committed a particularly hard foul on Kevin Garnett. Three players, Rondo, Humphries and Gerald Henderson who has been previouslt tee’d up …… were ejected. The ejection ended Rondo’s run of double-digit assists at 37 games, tied with John Stockton for second all time. Magic Johnson owns the record with 46.

Duke dumps Ohio State 73-68 in ACC/Big Ten challenge

No.2 Duke knocked of its second top five opponent in five days when the Blue Devils took down No.4 Ohio State 73-68 in the ACC/Big East challenge. Duke had knocked off previously No.2 on Saturday. Mason Plumlee led the way for Duke with 21 points. The Buckeyes, who led by eight at the half, went ice cold in the final 20 minutes ultimately shooting just 33% from the field for the game.

Messi, Ronaldo and Iniesta are FIFA POY finalsts

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta bested 20 other candidates for final consideration as FIFA’s world player of the year. The winner will be announced in Switzerland on Jan. 7 with Messi looking to win for the fourth consecutive year. The only other players to have won the FIFA award three times are Ronaldo and former France great Zinedine Zidane. The finalists for the women’s world player award are five-time winner Marta and American’ Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach.

Free Play

(NCAAB) Seton Hall +4.5 over LSU (Thursday, November 29, 9:30 PM EST)