The last time the New Orleans Saints went to the Emerald City, they got creamed by the Seattle Seahawks. What do the NFL betting lines have to say about Saturday’s rematch?
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 4 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
Who says the New Orleans Saints can’t win an outdoor game in the wintertime? The Saints marched into Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday and beat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24, cashing in as 3-point road dogs with temperatures below the freezing mark. It was the first road playoff win in six tries for New Orleans since joining the NFL in 1967. Laissez les boules de neige roulez~!
Full credit to the Saints for pulling off the mild upset – now they have to travel westward to take on the Seattle Seahawks, where the NFL odds have New Orleans pegged as an 8.5-point dog at the open with a total of 48. The long-range forecast calls for nasty conditions, but not quite so cold: Temperatures around 45 degrees are expected for Saturday’s kick-off (4:35 p.m. ET, FOX), with a 65 percent chance of rain and some gusts of wind blowing toward the north end of CenturyLink Field.
The last time we saw the Saints (12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS) in Seattle, they were getting their shrimp etouffee handed to them. The Seahawks (13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS) dominated the Week 13 game from the get-go, crushing New Orleans 34-7 on Monday Night Football in conditions similar to what we’re looking at for Saturday. The Saints (+6.5) were held to 188 total yards, including 44 yards on the ground, and Seattle’s defense added to the score when Michael Bennett returned a Drew Brees fumble 22 yards for a touchdown.
This wasn’t the first nightmare trip to the Emerald City for the Saints. Three years ago, they were 10-point favorites in their Wild Card matchup with a Seattle team that infamously won the NFC West at 7-9. The Seahawks beat New Orleans 41-36; Marshawn Lynch ran for a 67-yard score late in the fourth quarter, whipping the home crowd into such a frenzy that seismic tremors were recorded at the stadium.
History Never Repeats
As they say, past is prologue. The Saints have had their struggles with the running game this year – Football Outsiders has them ranked No. 19 overall in rushing efficiency during the regular season. But that certainly wasn’t the case in Philadelphia. On a day where Brees threw two interceptions, it was Mark Ingram stealing the show, carrying the ball 19 times for 97 yards and a touchdown. Khiry Robinson filled in for the injured Pierre Thomas and added 45 yards on eight carries.
A fine performance against an Eagles team that ranked No. 12 in rushing defense this year. But can they do it again versus the Seahawks? They have the top-ranked overall defense in the league at No. 1 against the pass and No. 8 against the rush. They also have the benefit of the bye week, allowing their banged-up players extra time to heal and prepare for the Saints.
Bye Bye Baby
Having said that, the bye week hasn’t been all that advantageous from a football betting perspective. It used to be a rule of thumb to bet the home team in the Divisional Round, but they split the cash last year at 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS, making them 16-24 ATS since 2003. Seattle was one of the road teams that got paid, losing 30-28 to the Atlanta Falcons on a miracle field goal, but cashing in as a 2.5-point puppy.
One other thing: Percy Harvin. He’s expected to play for Seattle barring any setbacks in practice, and his return provides enough special sauce for me to stick with the favorites here. Sure would have been nice to get the Seahawks at less than seven points again, though. Oh well. Guess I’ll tack on that extra half-point instead for a bargain on the juice.NFL Pick: Take the Seahawks –9 (+100) at The Greek