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While most sports betting players know that New Orleans’ offense can put up points with anyone in the NFL, this week’s trip to San Francisco in the divisional round will hinge on their defense, which is going to tee off on the 49ers’ quarterback.
Why Bet On New Orleans Saints (14-3 SU, 13-4 ATS)
The Saints have won eight in a row outright after a 45-28 win over Detroit, and it took their offense a while to get going, but once it did, the Lions couldn’t keep up. Drew Brees ended up with 466 yards and three touchdowns on 33-of-43 passing, but the Saints also kept the Lions off-balance with 167 yards on the ground as they racked up 626 yards of offense, and this also allowed the Saints to hold onto the ball for over 37 minutes. The defense held their own against the vaunted Detroit offense, holding them to 412 yards and forcing a pair of turnovers. Outside of receiver Calvin Johnson having over 200 yards (and that isn’t a slight on New Orleans as Johnson is the best wideout in the league), no one else on the Detroit offense really broke free.
The defense did enough to keep the Saints in the game until Brees and the offense found their rhythm and despite their two turnovers, New Orleans’ offense eventually broke the Lions down.
New Orleans should be healthy heading into this contest as receiver Lance Moore (hamstring) is their main injury concern, and the Saints didn’t miss him against the Lions. They have so many weapons and arguably the best quarterback in the NFL in Brees, who will have his hands full against a tough San Francisco defense. He may be asked to carry the load again as the 49ers are first in the league against the run, but the Saints can also trot out an assortment of backs to take on San Francisco.
Why Bet On San Francisco 49ers (13-3 SU, 11-4-1 ATS)
A few NFL betting players probably gave San Francisco a small chance to win the NFC West in Jim Harbaugh’s first season as head coach, but to go from 6-10 to a 13-3 juggernaut to get to the postseason for the first time since 2002 may be the biggest surprise of the season. Alex Smith has been the biggest beneficiary of Harbaugh’s tutelage as he finished ninth in the league in passer rating, but he has also been aided by a healthy Frank Gore, who played 16 games for the first time since 2006 and only the second time in his career, and he finished sixth in rushing yards. Tight end Vernon Davis and receiver Michael Crabtree are Smith’s favorite targets and Crabtree is slowly improving, showing the skills that made him a beast at Texas Tech. The San Francisco defense finished fourth in the NFL and as was mentioned before, they’re first against the run; good luck trying to run against a linebacking duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Rookie end Aldon Smith racked up 14.0 sacks and may end up as the Defensive Rookie of the Year. The defense is also tied with Green Bay with 38 takeaways and they lead the NFC in turnover margin.
Receivers Ted Ginn (ankle) and Kyle Williams (concussion) will have to get through practice this week, but tight end Delanie Walker (jaw) is definitely out this week. Some say that the 49ers play a soft schedule and they were in a terrible division, but they still managed to roll over Pittsburgh, and they earned good wins over Detroit and the New York Giants. Harbaugh has changed the culture in San Francisco and now they think they can win any game they play, but this game could come down to Smith under center.
How It Will Play Out
The NFL betting line for this game as New Orleans as a 3.5-point favorite on the road in San Francisco, and they’ve won six straight games against the 49ers, going 4-2 ATS in that stretch. The 49ers were spread-covering beasts at Candlestick this season, going 7-0-1 ATS at home, while the Saints were 4-4 ATS away from the Superdome. All three of their outright losses have come on the road and now the Saints have to take their high-powered show on the road against a top defense.
There are a lot of Saints who remember last year’s loss in Seattle and that left a bitter taste in their mouths, and they’re going to erase it with a win in San Francisco. The offense will have a solid day, but nothing record-breaking. The key will be a defense that forces Smith to make some mistakes and if the Saints get a lead and are able to blitz when they want (which they’ll do under coordinator Gregg Williams anyway), it could get ugly for the 49ers, who are one year and a receiver or two away from contending. Go with New Orleans to cover the online betting spread this weekend.
Saints 49ers Betting Pick: New Orleans Saints