NFL Picks: Saints vs. Seahawks Betting the Spread

Jason Lake

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 1:06 PM GMT

The New Orleans Saints haven’t done too well lately versus the Seattle Seahawks, but the early NFL betting action is on the Big Easy for Saturday’s Divisional Round battle.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 6 inclusive:

44-39-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

11-18-1 Totals

Well, this is interesting. The NFL lines for Saturday’s Divisional Round matchup (4:35 p.m. ET, FOX) between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks are already under heavy pressure. The Seahawks opened as 8.5-point home favorites, but as we go to press, that spread has already been bet down to –7.5. Our consensus reports show 64 percent of bettors lining up for New Orleans. Mon dieu.

It’s not all that surprising to see people betting on the Saints (12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS). This is a very good football team getting more than a touchdown, not to mention the most popular team in NFL betting over the course of the 2013 campaign. But this is the kind of betting activity I’d expect much later in the week. Have the sharps really decided to bet on New Orleans? Mozusse.

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Bring the Noise

First, a quick recap. The Seahawks (13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS) thumped the Saints 34-7 in Week 13 on Monday Night Football. They whooped their hide real good, cashing in as 6.5-point home favorites. The Saints would go on to finish the regular season at 3-5 SU and 1-7 ATS on the road. Seattle went 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS at The Clink, setting the world record for crowd noise along the way. Since the stadium opened in 2005, opponents have been flagged 130 times for false start penalties, more than any other venue in the league. The Metrodome is second with 115 false starts.

This kind of situation doesn’t normally send the sharps scurrying for the NFL betting window to lay down their cash on the visitors. Not that New Orleans doesn’t warrant some attention at this price; the weather reports now call for a 70 percent chance of rain along with some gusts of wind, which would tend to help the underdogs in concert with the UNDER. Indeed, we’ve seen the total driven down from 48.5 to 47.5 – another indicator of early sharp betting.

70 Is the New 30

This warrants further investigation. A closer look at the betting patterns from Vegas reveals all: When the NFL betting odds opened Sunday morning, the first rush of action was split roughly 70/30 in favor of Seattle – about the same as the UNDER, by the way. It wasn’t until later Sunday evening that the betting tide had turned in favor of New Orleans.

Well, that certainly makes me feel better about things. When I bet on the NFL, I like to look first at the advanced stats – guys like Football Outsiders are the coin of the realm – and then make adjustments based on typical sharp vs. square betting patterns. I don’t often land on the square side, but when I do, it alarms me. It’s like when that really cool band suddenly becomes popular. Except that never really happens anymore, does it?

Home Sweet Home

I need to be particularly careful with this matchup because I’m a Seahawks fan. The Pacific Northwest has been my home, on and off, for most of my life. I remember Chuck Knox. I remember Jim Zorn. That didn’t stop me from fading Seattle earlier this year against the Atlanta Falcons (I lost), so I hope that shows I can bet rationally in these situations. But you should be aware of my bias anyway. Full disclosure and all that.

I’ll be back again later this week with an analysis of the total and an update on the weather forecast/injury reports. Until then, may the prolate spheroid be with you.

NFL Pick: Take the Seahawks –7.5 at BetDSI