San Francisco 49ers (+3.5) (-115) over New Orleans Saints
Analysis: New Orleans is 14-0 SU and ATS at home since 2011, but that trend has been rendered useless in light of the fact that the oddsmakers have already accounted for it in the point spread. Indeed, my math model only favors New Orleans by 1.5-points so the bookmakers are asking bettors to pay a premium based upon the Saints’ well-publicized success at home. I should also note that New Orleans applies to a very negative 11-26-1 ATS situation that effectively cancels out the 14-0 ATS team trend.
San Francisco is averaging 25.2 points per game this season at 4.5 yards per rush play, 7.1 yards per pass attempt and 5.6 yards per play. Interestingly, the 49ers’ offense has excelled on the road where they are averaging an impressive 27.7 points per game at 5.0 yards per rush play, 7.1 yards per pass play and 5.8 yards per play. While San Francisco is only 0.1 yards per play better than average offensively overall, the 49ers possess an explosive attack that is averaging 12.7 yards per point, which is 2.0 yards per point better than average. I also like the fact that San Francisco arrives in town with a solid ground attack that is 0.4 yards per rush play better than average (4.5 yards per carry to teams that combine to allow 4.1 yards per carry). Investing on NFL underdogs who possess a good running game always provides value, especially when they are facing a porous stop unit like New Orleans.
In fact, the Saints are allowing 5.0 yards per rush play to teams that combine to average just 4.1 yards per rush play, thereby making New Orleans 0.9 yards per rush play worse than average defensively. Based on those numbers, San Francisco owns a significant 1.3 yards per rush play advantage over the Saints’ stop unit. This mind-numbing analysis is relevant in that the 49ers are 10-1 ATS when averaging 5.5 or more yards per rush play. Overall, New Orleans is 0.3 yards per play worse than average defensively this season, which gives the 49ers a 0.4 yards per play advantage when they have the ball. Meanwhile, San Francisco is 0.5 yards per play better than average defensively (5.0 yards per play to teams that combine to average 5.5 yards per play), which gives the Saints a nominal 0.3 yards per play advantage on offense.
However, New Orleans’ one-dimensional attack relies on the passing game (1.2 yards per pass play better than average), which plays into the strength of the 49ers’ defense. Specifically, San Francisco’s secondary is 0.8 yards per pass attempt better than average in 2013, which helps to neutralize Drew Brees and his aerial playbook. From a technical standpoint, San Francisco is a reliable 29-16 ATS over the last three seasons, as well as going 31-14 ATS following an upset loss. San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh stands at a perfect 8-0 ATS versus .750 or greater opposition so his team will be ready for tonight’s hostile environment. Grab the points and invest with confidence.