Dec 182013
 

New Orleans Saints (10-4) at Carolina Panthers (10-4)

The Saints lost last week in St. Louis in upset blowout fashion. However, they are in a good spot here in their 2nd straight road game. Historically, teams lose by an average of 3.07 points per game on the road after a home game and 2.07 points per game on the road after a road game, as far back as my data goes (1989). On top of that, teams that are in their 2nd straight road game (but not their 3rd straight) before another home game lose by an average of 1.44 points per game.

It seems that teams get used to being on the road in their 2nd straight road game, as long it is isn’t their 3rd straight road game and as long as they don’t have to go on the road again the following week. One trend that goes off of this is that teams are 101-63 ATS as road underdogs off of a road loss since 2008. This isn’t a new thing. Teams tend to cover at that rate historically no matter what year you use to cut off your sample size.

Going off of that, teams are 86-44 ATS since 2008 as road underdogs off of a road loss, before a home game, as long as it’s not their 3rd straight road game. Losing to the Rams last week might have actually helped them this week for that reason. Another reason why losing to the Rams last week might help them this week is how good the Saints have been off of a loss over the past 5 or so seasons. Since 2008, they are 17-3 ATS off of a loss when they have both Sean Payton coaching and Drew Brees playing.

However, there’s one really good reason not to be confident in the Saints this week. They lost to the Rams! In blowout fashion! I know that’s contradictory to the first 3 paragraphs, but it’s not like last week’s loss in St. Louis was some huge fluke that should just be ignored. It’s part of a long trend of disappointment for the Saints on the road. So far this season, they’ve lost in New England, New York to the Jets, and St. Louis, gotten blown out in Seattle, and almost lost in Tampa Bay and Atlanta, both of which were against the spread losses as road favorites.

I have a 13-1 ATS record picking Saints games this season and I would be 13-0-1 ATS if I had gotten New Orleans -3 against the 49ers a few weeks ago, which is where the line ended, instead of -3.5, where I got it. I’ve done that by betting them blindly at home and almost always going against them on the road. The only time I didn’t was when they were mere 1 point favorites in Chicago early this season, when the Bears were overrated. That’s their only road cover of the season as they are 1-6 ATS.

This isn’t just a 2013 problem for the Saints. Since 2008, they are 30-9 ATS (35-6 straight up) at home when Drew Brees is under center and Sean Payton is on the sideline. That’s as opposed to 17-24 ATS (24-19 straight up) on the road. How are they suddenly supposed to beat a very good Carolina team on the road when they’ve struggled this much (relatively) there thus far this season and in recent seasons? I know it’s their 2nd straight road game, which is why I’m not confident in Carolina either, but so were the New England and Seattle games.

Speaking of that very good Carolina team, they rank 1st in the NFL in rate of moving the chains differential. They move the chains at a 76.40% rate, while their opponents move the chains at a 67.37% rate, a differential of 9.03%. The Saints aren’t too shabby in this area either, even after their loss to St. Louis, as they move the chains at a 77.42% rate, as opposed to 69.94% for their opponents, a differential of 7.78%. That’s 3rd in the NFL, but they still don’t do as well as Carolina and they definitely aren’t nearly as good away from the Superdome. This line suggests that these two teams are even on a neutral field. I don’t think that’s true.

On top of that, the Panthers are in a good spot as they will be road favorites of 3 or more in Atlanta next week, a situation teams are 62-40 ATS since 2012. Furthermore, teams are 113-84 ATS since 2002 as divisional home favorites before being divisional road favorites. Again, I’m not that confident in the Panthers because there are things that work in New Orleans’ favor this week, but they should be the right side.

Carolina Panthers 27 New Orleans Saints 20

Pick against spread: Carolina -3

Confidence: Low

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