New Orleans Saints (9-2) at Seattle Seahawks (10-1)
There’s a pretty powerful trend that says when two teams who are about to undergo a scheduling dynamic change (from dog to favorite or favorite to dog) play each other, the dog covers more often than not. The favorite is distracted by their upcoming game as underdogs, while the underdog has no distractions coming up considering they will be favorites next. This game does fit that trend. The Seahawks are home favorites here and will be road underdogs in San Francisco next week, while the Saints will be home favorites for the Panthers. Teams are 52-86 ATS as home favorites before being road underdogs when their opponent will next be home favorites.
However, as is the case with all trends, you can’t just follow it blindly. Next week’s game in San Francisco is going to be a big deal, but I don’t think the Seahawks are going to overlook a game that could easily be NFC Championship part 1 the way Denver/New England could have been AFC Championship part 1 last week. The Seahawks already have a 3 game lead on the division, but they’re only up a game over the Saints for the #1 seed and home field advantage throughout the NFC. Likewise, the Saints could be equally distracted with the Carolina game next week that could be for the NFC South championship. I don’t think one team is in a better spot than the other in terms of upcoming distractions, despite what the trend says.
There are several reasons why this could easily be NFC Championship part 1. Of course, these are currently the two best teams in the NFC record wise, but both teams are also dominant at home. That means, if they get a top-2 seed and a first round bye, they are basically in the NFC Championship game, with a bye and a home game before that. Once there, home field advantage is going to be incredibly important because of how good these two teams are at home. In fact, if we assume the winner of this game gets the #1 seed, the winner of this game probably has a better chance than not of going all the way to the Super Bowl. This might be even bigger than the NFC Championship game because it could decide the NFC Championship game.
How good is Seattle at home? Well, since 2007, they are 37-17 ATS at home, including 21-9 ATS as home favorites. They have been especially good over the past two years, as they’ve broken out as an elite team, going 10-3 ATS since the start of the 2012 season. They’ve won all 13 games at home over the past 2 seasons by an average of 17.9 points per game. The Saints are equally dominant at home, but they aren’t at home here.
Drew Brees’ quarterback rating on the road since 2008 is about 12 points lower and this year, they’ve lost in New York to the Jets and in New England. They also barely won in Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Only their 8 point win in Chicago has been impressive for the Saints on the road this season and even that wasn’t that impressive. The Saints couldn’t beat the Seahawks in Seattle a few years ago in the playoffs and that was when they were a significantly better team than the Seahawks. That’s not the case here at all so the Saints could really be in trouble.
I’m not going against the Seahawks at home here against a Saints team that displays a similar home/road disparity to them. If this was in New Orleans, I would take the Saints, but it isn’t. I’m 11-0 against the spread on Saints games this year, so I feel like I have a very good read on them. Also helping the Seahawks is the fact that they are coming off a bye. They’ve had an extra week to prepare for this. Great teams usually make great use of that extra week. Teams with a winning percentage of 90% or better are 25-11 ATS as home off of a bye since 1989. I’m pretty confident the Seahawks cover here.
Seattle Seahawks 31 New Orleans Saints 20
Pick against spread: Seattle -6