Depending on who you ask, making an NFC divisional round betting prediction is either a revenge play or an academic bet (view the game’s betting trends here). The Saints travelled to Seattle just over a month ago and were spanked in a 7-34 beat down. It’s easy to believe that the Saints will want to exact a level of revenge for that embarrassing loss (or the upset Seattle handed them two years ago in the MarShawn Lynch Game), but that’s not really the only angle in this game. Despite last weekend’s victory over Philadelphia, the Saints remain a terrible road team.
After going just 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 away games of 2013, Drew Brees and Mark Ingram barreled in to Philadelphia and won 26-24 on the road as three-point dogs despite every metric saying otherwise. That shouldn’t have happened, but that’s why we play the games out instead of letting predictive models suck all the fun out of it. Even if you factor last weekend’s upset, New Orleans is still just 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games. That’s still not very good.
The game against Philadelphia also played right in to New Orleans’ hands. If there was any weakness on the Eagles, it was their rush defense, which hadn’t been tested for two months because they were always building big leads with Foles tearing up the regular season. And normally the Saints aren’t designed to win slug fests, but they’re a veteran-led team with a coach that knows how to get the job done. That’s why many NFC divisional round betting predictions are leaning towards the Saints as major dogs, and why more than two-thirds of the action is streaming in on New Orleans.
However, when you consider that they’re facing the league’s best scoring and passing defense, it’s virtually impossible to make an NFC divisional round betting prediction that doesn’t have Seattle winning in another squash. It’s Seattle at home, right? This is the academic side of the equation.
The Seahawks are a stiff 37-17-5 ATS in their last 55 home games and possess the only true, meaningful, home field advantage in the NFL. The damp, wet conditions of the Pacific Northwest combined with the ear drum shattering decibels created by their fans makes CenturyLink the hardest place to play an NFL game for any opponent.
But Seattle wasn’t indestructible at home. They lost outright to Arizona in Week 16, and were also almost beaten by the Buccaneers. So there’s reason to believe that Brees can do some damage, especially given the loss of key personnel in the Seattle secondary. This is the thinking, anyhow.
By all betting metrics, Seattle is the best betting team in the league. They were a strong 11-5 ATS, while posting an absurd +11.7 point differential throughout the year. At home this season they went “just” 5-3 ATS. This is a confident, complete and aggressive squad that is coming off a week of rest and there’s nothing that New Orleans did last Sunday against Philadelphia that should encourage a brave bet on their side of the lines.
There are plenty of reasons to back the underdogs in NFC divisional round pick, but that doesn’t mean you have to bite in to the hype.