For the first time since mid-September, the New Orleans Saints are in a bounce-back spot off a loss.
Drew Brees and company have had some extra time to think about last Thursday’s 13-10 defeat in Dallas. What had been the most explosive offense in the NFL for several weeks never got rolling.
Dallas 13, New Orleans 10
Total Yardage: New Orleans 176, Dallas 308
Yards-per-play: New Orleans 3.6, Dallas 4.7
Third Down Rate: New Orleans 27%, Dallas 50%
Passing Stats: New Orleans 18-28-1-111, Dallas 24-28-0-208
Wow … 176 total yards and 111 passing yards would be a mildly disappointing half. Instead, it was a disastrous full game. Though, the result was in doubt until the final moments because the Saints’ defense did a great job of keeping Dallas out of the end zone.
Bettors backing New Orleans had no chance to cover. The seven-point favorites never led, falling behind 13-0 in the first half.
Opportunity for redemption comes Sunday at Tampa Bay, where the Saints will likely close as 8-point favorites (FOX, noon). That’s also a revenge spot! New Orleans’ first loss of the season came in its opener vs. the Bucs. That suggests peak intensity for the Saints … trying to bounce back from a dud against a divisional rival that shocked them in week one.
Betting markets are very interested to see how the Saints perform Sunday. That prior hot run had put New Orleans at the top of the totem pole in futures prices to win the NFC and the Super Bowl. Now, potential championship clearance wasn’t so clear from the likes of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC, and the Kansas City Chiefs or New England Patriots for the Super Bowl.
It’s the Rams who currently own the top seed in the NFC brackets with an 11-1 record. New Orleans is 10-2. Should those two tie after 16 games, the Saints would get the nod because of a regular season heads-up victory. New Orleans fans will be rooting for the Chicago Bears against the Rams Sunday night (NBC, 7:20 p.m.). The Rams will likely close near -3 if Chase Daniel is the Chicago quarterback, below a field goal if Mitchell Trubisky can return from injury.
Here’s a look at composite futures prices to win the NFC from around the globe: LA Rams 7/5 (+140), New Orleans 6/4 (+150), Chicago 10/1 (+1000), Dallas 11/1 (+1100), Seattle 14/1 (+1400), Minnesota 16/1 (+1600).
Markets are now giving the Rams the slight nod to take the NFC because of that projected home field edge. The Seahawks and Vikings currently hold the two wildcard spots, but there’s plenty of time for others to chase them down.
Odds to win the Super Bowl: LA Rams 3/1 (+300), New Orleans 7/2 (+350), Kansas City and New England are each 11/2 (+550), LA Chargers 12/1 (+1200), Pittsburgh and Houston are both 14/1 (+1400).
Remember that odds vary from shop to shop. Check your local establishments for the latest numbers. The Chargers took a big step forward with this past Sunday night’s road win at Pittsburgh. An impressive 26-7 second-half blitz established the Bolts as a legitimate contender.
▪ If Sunday’s Saints’ line sticks at -8, New Orleans will be a very popular betting choice in “teasers.” These are bets where you can move the line six points in your favor on at least two teams…but then you have to SWEEP all your choices to cash the ticket.
Professional bettors have long applied a “basic strategy” to this proposition that focuses on picking teams that cross both the key numbers of three and seven with that six-point move. They will bring New Orleans down to -2, then look for other teams to link with the Saints. New Orleans would qualify at anywhere from -7.5 to -8.5 because the adjustment would fall below three.
Other possibilities, depending on weekend line moves: moving New England down on the road at Miami (likely closing in the -7.5 to -8.5 range), moving Cleveland up at home against Carolina (likely closing in the +1.5 to +2.5 range, which would allow you to get the Browns at +7.5 to +8.5), and moving Arizona up at home against Detroit (likely closing in the +1.5 to +2.5 range).
▪ Only one major college football game of note this weekend, the annual Army-Navy game Saturday (CBS, 2 p.m.). This rivalry’s special spot on the calendar has made it a very popular betting option. Army is favored for the first time since 2001. The Black Knights won outright the past two seasons as underdogs, beating the Midshipmen 14-13 last year getting two points, 21-17 two seasons ago getting +5.5.
Army will likely close as a 7-point favorite. That’s such an important number. If the public picks a side with enough passion to move the point spread off the seven, pro bettors will likely bring it back with value bets.
Note that Army is already bowl eligible, and will face Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl December 22. Army was posted as a 3-point favorite in that game for early betting. Navy won’t go bowling, carrying a disappointing 3-9 record into Saturday’s showdown.