NFL Picks: Dolphins vs. Saints Betting the Total

Jason Lake

Monday, September 30, 2013 12:18 PM GMT

Monday, Sep. 30, 2013 12:18 PM GMT

What’s this? The Week 4 NFL odds board shows the New Orleans Saints with their third total in a row of fewer than 50 points. They only had one of those the entire 2012 season.

Follow our complete coverage of the Miami Dolphins vs. New Orleans Saints NFL Monday Night Football game! 

You could see this coming from a mile away. The New Orleans Saints were practically a lock to improve on defense this year, and so it has come to pass: New Orleans is fifth in the league in defensive efficiency after three weeks, according to Football Outsiders. The ‘Under’ is 3-0 as a result. Big Easy-Peasy.

Dolphins vs Saints: Opening Odds Report by Jordan Sharp

But can the Saints keep the gravy train rolling on Monday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins? Miami has the ‘Over’ at 2-1 after three games, and the Dolphins offense ranks eighth in efficiency going into Monday’s matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The NFL betting lines for Week 4 have a total of 48.5 up on the board; that’s up from 47 points at the open, with roughly two-thirds of bettors pounding the ‘Over’.

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Ain’t Singing for Spags

Perhaps the football betting public just isn’t used to the 2013 Saints. The 2012 model finished the year dead last in defensive efficiency, a result which we can trace directly to the Bountygate affair. Sharp football betting fans will recall that New Orleans not only lost head coach Sean Payton for the year, but also assistant head coach and linebackers coach Joe Vitt for the first six games.

On top of all that, Steve Spagnuolo was brought in as defensive co-ordinator to replace Gregg Williams, who was already out the door when he received his indefinite suspension from the league’s front office. Suffice to say, this isn’t what Steve Spagnuolo signed up for. He got the boot after New Orleans gave up the most yardage in a season in NFL history.

Dolphins vs. Saints: Betting the Spread by Jordan Sharp

49.5 Cent

Combine that awful defense with the usual high-octane offense from QB Drew Brees, who led the NFL for the second straight year in passing yards (5,177) and touchdown throws (43), and the ‘Over’ was laughing all the way to the bank at 10-6. That was against some giant totals, too. The lowest total the Saints saw all year was 49.5 in Week 7. However, the football odds caught up from that point onward, as the ‘Under’ went 4-2 in games with a total of at least 54.

So when will sports bettors accept the new normal? Here are the results from the first three Saints games of the 2013 season:

Week 1: Atlanta Falcons 17, New Orleans 23 (‘Under’ 54.5)

Week 2: New Orleans 16, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 (‘Under’ 48.5)

Week 3: Arizona Cardinals 7, New Orleans 31 (‘Under’ 48.5)

Maybe 48.5 points is the new normal. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the total were even higher by the time you read this. Now that we’ve cleared 48 points, there isn’t much resistance between here and 51 points, one of the more common combined final scores in the NFL. We all know how much the public likes to bet the ‘Over’.

As for the Dolphins, they’ve gotten some good results from sophomore QB Ryan Tannehill (94.3 passer rating), but let’s not roll out the red carpet just yet. Football Outsiders has Tannehill ranked No. 17 in passing DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement), and the former Texas A&M Aggie has just 11 yards on 11 carries thus far. Oh well. That’s still better than Dan Marino’s career average of 0.3 yards per carry.

Here’s the kicker: Both of Miami’s ‘Over’ results were close ones, by a combined margin of five points, and the highest total the Fish have seen all season is 45.5. It’s perfectly logical to go with the ‘Under’ in this situation – and it would certainly be nicer if the total got up around 50 points again. Just like the old days.

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NFL Pick: Take the UNDER 48.5 points in the Dolphins/Saints game, at William Hill

For an alternate view on this game, read Joe Freda's Monday Night Prediction!

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