Both the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers are coming off opening week losses as they prepare to battle Sunday in NFL preseason action (CBS, 3 p.m.). Betting markets made the host Chargers a field goal favorite earlier this week. Though, there’s still plenty of time for that to change between now and kickoff.
Home field advantage is usually worth about two points in exhibition matchups, rather than a standard three during the regular season. So, we can deduce that oddsmakers and sharps (professional wagerers) believe Los Angeles is slightly more likely to prioritize the game.
If the Chargers are -3 at home, they’d be -1 if this week’s game was on a neutral field. It’s noteworthy that there hasn’t been any buy back yet on the Saints at +3, which is a common final margin because of field goals.
Among the reasons the Chargers may offer betting value…
▪ Though they lost 17-13 last week at Arizona, the Chargers won stats. Los Angeles had a big 357-289 edge in yardage, a huge 6.6 to 4.9 advantage in yards-per-play, and were sharper on third down conversions to the tune of 50% to 36%. It probably would have been a road victory if an 83-yard drive hadn’t ended with a fumble on first and goal from the two-yard line. The offense was more effective at moving the ball than the final scoreboard made it seem. Recreational bettors may not know that, but sharp market influences do.
▪ Head coach Anthony Lynn’s team has hosted the Saints in both of his preseasons. Both were losses. Even if wins don’t matter in August, no NFL coach wants to lose three straight exhibition games at home to the same team. Revenge is rarely used as a preseason handicapping tool. Here, maybe it’s worth a shot.
▪ The Chargers are still trying to create electricity in their new home city (after moving from San Diego prior to the 2017 season). That might create a greater sense of urgency to get a result. In a similar scenario last year, the Chargers (-3) beat Seattle 24-17 after losing a road opener at Arizona 24-17. Will history repeat?
▪ New Orleans’ backups didn’t impress in last week’s home loss to Minnesota. The Vikings out-gained the Saints 460-337 on 8.5 to 5.3 yards-per-play. And, even though the offense converted 50% of its third down tries, the defense let Minnesota move the chains on 71% of its chances.
Obviously anything can happen in a preseason game with non-starters playing the majority of minutes. And, the New Orleans’ defense in particular doesn’t want to get pushed around for the second week in a row. Be sure you monitor weekend media coverage to get a full sense of personnel rotations for both rosters.
Note that both teams will play their Week Three “dress rehearsals” next Saturday. The Saints visit the New York Jets, while the Chargers host Seattle.
▪ In addition to Saints/Chargers, this weekend’s NFL schedule is loaded with TV betting attractions featuring projected playoff contenders. There are prime time telecasts Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Here’s a quick rundown with late-week point spreads in parenthesis…
Saturday (all on the NFL Network): Cleveland (+3) at Indianapolis (3 p.m.), Kansas City (pick-em) at Pittsburgh (6:30 p.m.), and Dallas (-2) at the Los Angeles Rams (joined in progress).
Sunday: Seattle (+4.5) at Minnesota (FOX, 7 p.m.)
Monday: San Francisco (+2.5) at Denver (ESPN, 7 p.m.)
▪ Current global consensus odds to win the NFC: LA Rams 4/1, New Orleans 9/2, Philadelphia 7/1, Chicago 8/1, Green Bay 10/1, Dallas 11/1, Minnesota 12/1, Seattle 14/1, Atlanta 14/1, San Francisco 18/1.
▪ Current global consensus odds to win the AFC: New England 3/1, Kansas City 7/2, LA Chargers 7/1, Cleveland 7/1, Indianapolis 7/1, Pittsburgh 11/1, Baltimore 16/1, Houston 16/1.
Note that the Colts’ odds may plummet if more bad injury news surfaces for Andrew Luck. It’s now far from a sure thing that he’ll be ready to go opening week.
▪ A big baseball weekend for bettors with plenty of playoff contenders going head-to-head. The TV highlights…Cleveland at the New York Yankees (Saturday, MLB Network, 12:05 p.m.), Houston at Oakland (Saturday, FS1, 3:05 p.m.), Milwaukee at Washington (Sunday, FS1, 6:05 p.m.), the Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta (Sunday, TBS, 12:20 p.m.), and the Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh (Sunday, ESPN, 6:05 p.m.)
In only five listed games, we could have all six eventual divisional winners (if Cleveland beats out Minnesota in the A.L. Central), and some wildcard entries.
Don’t the summer heat get you down. It’s time to start placing bets!