New Orleans Saints (4-4) at San Francisco 49ers (1-6)
The Saints pulled a big home upset last week against the Seahawks. Part of the reason they were able to do that is because they didn’t have any upcoming distractions on the schedule, with this game in San Francisco against the 1-6 49ers on deck. Home underdogs tend to cover before being road favorites. Unfortunately for the Saints, the opposite also tends to be true, putting the Saints in a very tough spot this week as 4.5 point road favorites. This game is sandwiched between last week’s home upset win and another tough home game next week against the Denver Broncos, in which they are home underdogs on the early line. Teams are 56-78 ATS off of a home upset victory since 2012 and, over that same period of time, teams are just 16-31 ATS as road favorites before being home underdogs.
The 49ers are one of the worst teams in the league, but they could still easily take advantage of the Saints likely not being 100% focused on this seemingly easy game. I’m not saying the 49ers are going to win, but this line is 4.5 and about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer, so I like the 49ers chances of at least keeping it close this week. This line was 2 a week ago on the early line, so we’ve had significant line movement through the key numbers of 3 and 4 in the past week as a result of the Saints’ victory. That’s a huge overreaction, as the Saints were in a great spot last week and playing a Seattle team that was missing two of its best defenders.
There are two reasons why this isn’t a bigger play. One is the Saints get two key defenders back from injury this week, as top cornerback Delvin Breaux will play for the first time since week 1 and 1st round pick defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins will make his NFL debut. They will help a defense that has been the worst in the league this season, though they’ve had the worst defense in the league in each of the past 2 seasons as well, so this is still a very weak unit. The second reason is the 49ers go to Arizona next week, a game in which they could be double digit underdogs (the early line is at 11). Teams are 40-61 ATS since 2012 before being double digit underdogs. That big divisional clash could be a distraction for San Francisco. I’m still taking the 49ers as long as the line is higher than 4, but it’s a medium confidence pick only.
New Orleans Saints 24 San Francisco 49ers 23
Pick against the spread: San Francisco +4.5