Bet 'Over' for Saints/Panthers Thursday Night Football Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 9:12 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 9:12 PM UTC

After shredding the NFL odds in Week 8, the resurgent New Orleans Saints are looking at a low total – for them – of 49 points in Thursday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. It’s clobberin’ time.

Jason’s record after Week 8: 24-33 ATS, 9-12-1 Totals

Profit: minus-29.93 units

This just in: The New Orleans Saints no longer have the worst defense in the NFL. Nope, according to the updated efficiency stats at Football Outsiders, the Saints improved all the way from No. 32 to No. 30 (No. 28 pass, No. 18 rush) after beating the Green Bay Packers 44-23 Sunday night. If you were one of the many OVER bettors (roughly 80 percent of the market) who wasn’t swayed by the posted total of 55 points on the NFL odds board, you got paid. Again. The OVER is 6-1 for the Saints after seven games.

New Orleans also has the No. 2-ranked offense (No. 9 pass, No. 2 rush) in the nation after destroying the Packers last week, so you’d expect a team with this kind of offense/defense imbalance to knock around those totals something fierce. But early bettors weren’t as eager to add the OVER to their NFL picks for Thursday night’s game between the Saints and the Carolina Panthers (OVER 5-3). Our consensus reports showed an even 50/50 split on the over/under when it opened at 49 points.


September Song
Why the reticence? Perhaps it has something to do with the Saints offense playing worse outside the Superdome. True, but that hasn’t had much effect on the football odds: The over/under is 15-15 in the last 30 away games for the Saints, regular season and playoffs included. And all four of their road games this year have gone OVER.

Well, not all away games are created equal. You’d expect New Orleans to perform better in a dome, which was the situation in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons and Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. And it was September when the Saints visited the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4.

So let’s get a little more specific about these away totals. Here’s how the OVER has done in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees Era with New Orleans on the road and not playing in a dome, broken down month-by-month:

Sept.: 11-3
Oct.: 6-7
Nov.: 4-6
Dec.: 9-4
Jan.: 4-3

Interesting. As one might expect, the Saints have continued to drive the OVER to the pay window playing outdoors in September, but not so much in October and November. And then the script gets flipped again in the winter months. We can speculate that’s from overly deflated totals in response to the weather, which is a thing, but it’s another thing for another day.


Cutie QC
Now let’s narrow our focus even further and look at the opponents for Thursday night’s tilt (8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN and not CBS). Here’s the big one: Since 2006, the UNDER has gone 6-2 for the Saints when they visit Carolina. And for the most part, that’s been against totals in the mid-to-low 40s. Ah, but those two OVER results were in 2011 and 2012, and they both were against totals in the 50s.

To do this proper justice, we’d have to look at the changes the Panthers have undergone since 2006. Last year they had the No. 3-ranked defense in the league and drove the UNDER to an 11-5 record, including their 17-13 win in Week 16 over the Saints (UNDER 44). But despite last week’s 13-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks (UNDER 44.5), Carolina is only ranked No. 28 (No. 23 pass, No. 31 rush) in defensive DVOA this year. Each of the previous five Panthers games went OVER the posted total. With decent weather expected over Charlotte Thursday night, we’re going to bet on a return to form and another high-scoring contest in this age of high-scoring contests.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on OVER 49 (–105) at 5Dimes

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