A rejuvinated New Orleans Saints team hosts the New York Giants in Week 8 in the NFL, and our NFL handicapper analyzes the matchup to make his early lean against the spread.
The NFC East leading New York Giants travel to New Orleans to visit the Saints on Sunday, with the Saints trailing both the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South by three games in the win column. With the Saints already 2-4 in conference and looking at a possible wild card berth if they were to make the playoffs, this game is a must win. They would lose that tie-breaker against Minnesota, St. Louis, Seattle, and Washington if the season ended today. The early NFL odds in this game had New Orleans listed as a 3.5-point home favorite, with the early money pushing that line down to 3 points at books such as 5Dimes. The O/U total can be found at both 49 and 49.5 points at multiple books.
At first glance, this line looks incredibly sharp as these teams are statistically close in a range of categories. Let’s start with the defenses. The Giants are 29th in the league in yards allowed per game at 401.7, while the Saints are 30th in the league at 404.9 yards allowed per game. Of those yards, both teams are very close in passing yards allowed at 275.7 YPG for the Saints and 288.3 YPG for the Giants.
However, there are some differences in pressuring the quarterback. With the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants have just 9 sacks this year. This is one sack from being last in the league in that category. The Saints, on the other hand, have been getting to the quarterback more easily and have racked up 16 sacks this year. Where the Giants have the upper hand is in the turnover battle. Their defense has recovered 20 turnovers thus far this year, including 11 interceptions. When you compare that to the 10 turnovers that the Saints have garnered, well… that’s likely the reason the Saints are 3-4 and the Giants are 4-3 this season.
On offense there are other similarities on the surface. The Giants and Saints score at a rate within one point per game difference from one another, at 23.7 and 20.0 PPG, respectively. They run the ball at almost the exact same clip as well, in the lower third of the league and with the Saints taking the edge in that statistic at 98.7 to 95.6 YPG. The Saints and Drew Brees have more yards per game passing though, but that could easily be because they have been playing from behind more often than the Giants.
This has been a series of shootouts lately, with each of the last 3 games between these teams racking up more than 70 points. In those games, the home team won by at least 17 points as well. Usually I don’t like to compare games between teams that happened a few years ago, but with these quarterbacks and head coaches being consistent over the timeframe the general schemes should be similar. For this reason, the trend of New Orleans going 4-1 SU in their last five games is useful.
Looking at this season’s common opponents, I keep looking at the games each of these teams had against Atlanta as a guide to this game. Each had Atlanta at home, with New Orleans winning outright as an underdog and the Giants losing a ten-point lead in the 4th quarter to lose 24-20. I think this young and motivated New Orleans team will have what it takes to win against a sloppy New York Giants team, and am taking New Orleans -3 at Bovada as one of my Week 8 NFL Picks.
NFL Pick: Saints -3 (-120) at Bovada