NFL Picks: Packers-Saints Betting Odds Analysis

Jason Lake

Monday, October 20, 2014 6:22 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 6:22 PM UTC

The New Orleans Saints have opened as the favorites for their Sunday Night Football matchup with the Green Bay Packers. But these early NFL odds are trying to tell us something: Green Bay is the better team.

Jason’s record after Week 6: 21-22 ATS, 5-10-1 Totals

Profit: minus-13.99 units

What will it take for people to give up on the New Orleans Saints? For now, they’re the No. 1 public favorite in NFL betting (as opposed to the Denver Broncos, who are general NFL fandom), but it’s not going to last if the Saints keep playing this way. They blew it again last Sunday, losing 24-23 to the Detroit Lions after going up 23-10 with just over five minutes remaining. New Orleans did cash in as a 1.5-point road dog, but that still leaves America’s sweethearts at 2-4 SU and ATS on the season.

Maybe Sunday night will be the turning point. The Saints are about to welcome the Green Bay Packers to the Superdome, and the NFL odds had New Orleans laying a very slim 1.5 points at the open. Many of our featured online sportsbooks have moved to New Orleans –2 since then, under pressure from early Packers action. But unless the NFL odds moves to at least 2.5 points, enough to represent home-field advantage, the market is telling us it thinks the Packers are better than the Saints.

Aaron, Go Brag
Of course, any semi-objective football fan could tell you that. Green Bay (5-2 SU, 4-2-1 ATS) is tied with Detroit atop the NFC North, riding a four-game winning streak SU and ATS that has seen Aaron Rodgers (117.3 passer rating) throw 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. In his last four games, Drew Brees (91.7 passer rating) has eight TD passes and five picks. Not good.

If you’re a little more football-aware, you’ll consider the strength of schedule each team has faced. The two losses the Packers have suffered this year were both on the road, against the Lions (–1) and the Seattle Seahawks (–4.5). The two wins the Saints managed were both at home, against the Minnesota Vikings (+10) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+11). And it took overtime to beat the Bucs.

For an even higher level of football nerddom, let’s check in with Pro Football Reference, where the Packers have been given a plus-6.6 on the Simple Rating System. The Saints? Minus-5.5, which is actually the best SRS of any of the NFC South teams. Holy doodle. Other teams in the same neighborhood as New Orleans: the Tennessee Titans (minus-5.6 SRS) and the New York Jets (minus-5.8 SRS). Let that sink in for a moment.

If you go by their SRS figures, the Packers should be favored by about 8.5 points in Sunday night’s matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC). Making NFL picks isn’t that easy, of course, but there is a big discrepancy between the advanced stats and the Week 8 football odds, big enough for the sharps to drive a Brinks truck through. They made Green Bay a unanimous pick at the open and were still pounding that cheese at 67 percent the morning after.

So why such a big difference between the computers and the books? This is the Saints we’re talking about; we can expect lots of public money to come in and balance things out once the weekend rolls around. Also, we have to acknowledge that Sunday’s game is at the Superdome, where New Orleans has gone 8-1-1 ATS in its last 10 appearances, and 23-6-1 ATS in its past 30 (playoffs included). All four of the Saints’ losses this year were on the road.

You could make the argument that the Saints would be “buy-low” candidates here if it weren’t for all that public money. Again, maybe things will change if the Packers put the boots to them at home in front of a national TV audience. Even another SU loss/ATS win combo against Green Bay might be enough for New Orleans to be worth following again. Or how about this: Bountygate II?

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