Add Packers to Week 8 NFL Picks Despite Saints Home Success

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 3:26 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 3:26 PM UTC

The New Orleans Saints have had a pretty rough start to their 2014 campaign, but if they beat the Green Bay Packers and the NFL odds this Sunday night, the Saints will be back at .500 with the playoffs in sight.

Jason’s Record After Week 7: 22-29 ATS, 7-11-1 Totals

Profit: minus-29.68 units


If there’s anything close to a deadbolt lock on the Week 8 schedule, you’d think it would be the Green Bay Packers (5-2 SU, 4-2-1 ATS) visiting the New Orleans Saints (2-4 SU and ATS) as 1-point underdogs. There’s no question that Green Bay is playing the better brand of football right now. And you can always count on Saints supporters to flood the marketplace and distort the NFL odds. Easy to see why the Packers were getting unanimous support in early betting.

But there are three reasons why the Saints might be the smarter NFL pick this Sunday: location, location, location. You may recall our analysis of the opening odds, where we pointed out that New Orleans is 8-1-1 ATS in its last 10 games at the Superdome, and 23-6-1 ATS in its past 30 including the playoffs. Maybe all the Saints need to get their season back on track is a little of that home-cooked gumbo.


Home Fries
Here at the ranch, we rely on the same freely-available advanced stats that have been considered industry-standard for a while now. But they don’t reveal much when it comes to home/away splits. Professional handicappers who have compiled their own databases or have paid for subscriptions should have better access to this level of data.

That doesn’t mean we’re up the proverbial creek. You can still get solid information on home/away splits for free, if you’re content with some of the more conventional statistics. As you should be: These are bread-and-butter analysis tools. And if you look at the home/away splits for the Saints, you can see that the Superdome is key to their success:

2014 Saints
Home: 77.1 percent completion rate, 119.7 passer rating
Away: 69.8 CMP%, 93.6 RATE

2013 Saints
Home: 73.7 CMP%, 125.9 RATE
Away: 63.0 CMP%, 83.4 RATE

2012 Saints
Home: 62.2 CMP%, 102.7 RATE
Away: 63.8 CMP%, 90.2 RATE

2011 Saints
Home: 72.9 CMP%, 124.3 RATE
Away: 69.4 CMP%, 98.0 RATE

The outlier in this group is the 2012 team, which was cut down by the Bountygate scandal. Otherwise, you can see that the Saints are much more effective at passing the ball when they’re at home. How much more effective is another question that would require more advanced stats that take quality of opposition and other factors into account. But if you compare the league-average home/away splits to the numbers above, there isn’t nearly the same gap in performance that you find with the Saints.


Such is the power of the Superdome. New Orleans runs a version of the Air Coryell offense under head coach Sean Payton and offensive co-ordinator Pete Carmichael. You’d expect a high-octane passing offense to suffer a little when exposed to the elements. And it shouldn’t surprise you that all four of the Saints’ losses this year were on the road.

But look again at the teams they played: Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas and Detroit. That’s two domes, and one retractable roof in Dallas that still covers much of the field when open, as it was in Week 4. If the Saints are having trouble winning at those venues, then they must be having trouble in general. That’s ultimately why we’re willing to add Green Bay to our NFL picks despite the Saints’ past success at home, albeit only for our standard small bet of 1.4 units. Don’t bet the farm on this one.


The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: NO
Defense/Special Teams: GB
Coaching: NO
Market Bias: GB
Betting Line Value: GB

Verdict: 1-star pick on GB

Free NFL Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Packers +2 (–105) at Matchbook

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