Seattle Seahawks vs. New Orleans Saints (9/22/19): NFL Betting Picks, Lines

This Week’s Results: 0-2
All Time Results: 20-10, +7.15 Units

Seattle Seahawks (-215) vs. New Orleans Saints – .86 Units

For the sake of argument, let’s say this line was accurate when it opened at Pick’em prior to the Drew Brees injury last week.  The Saints entered this season somewhere around 3-4 points better than Seattle, and the Seahawks HFA is between 3-4 points.

Today the line is anywhere from Seahawks -4 to -5.  Is the 4-5-point adjustment from the opener to this current number too much, not enough or essentially accurate?  To answer this question I think there are three assessments we have to make.  All point me toward the same conclusion.

A.) How much do we upgrade/downgrade the Seahawks from Weeks 1 & 2?

No team’s wins have been so thoroughly discounted this year than Seattle’s.  Their escape job in Week 1 vs. the Bengals pretty much counted as a loss in most people’s eyes.  They were outgained by 200 yards and won the game by 1 point.  Week 2 was a similar story vs. 0-2 Pittsburgh.  A cursory look at the game concludes that the Seahawks underperformed despite their win.  After all, they beat a team that lost their starting quarterback by only 2 points.

While I grant that Seattle didn’t set the world on fire in either game, I’m hard-pressed to downgrade them after consecutive wins. Since last year, we knew this was going to be a work in progress.

seattle seahawksAccording to The Ringer’s Robert Mays, the Seahawks of the last two years can be defined as “Russel Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and a blank canvas”.  Indeed, Seattle has the 4th youngest Roster in the NFL.  They added perhaps their third-best player, Jadaveon Clowney, days before their opening game.  Most of their key perimeter players are growing into a new or bigger role.

Improvement is not only possible – it should be expected.  The last time the Seahawks started 2-0 in 2013, they had the youngest roster in the NFL.  That year they continuously improved to the tune of a 43-8 Super Bowl victory.  Last year, too, was considered by many to be a rebuilding year, until Russell Wilson hustled them into 10 wins and a playoff berth.

The play of the game last week for me: Wilson threw a lead block on the backside to spring Rashaad Penny for a 37-yard touchdown.  Even as Wilson boasts the 2nd highest career QB rating in NFL history, I still think his impact on winning is undervalued by traditional statistics and traditional football people. His excellence and execution are Brady-Esq.

B.) How much do we upgrade/downgrade the Saints from Weeks 1 & 2?

For the 6th year in a row, the Saints failed to cover the spread (i.e. beat expectations) in either of the first two weeks of the NFL season.

new orleans saintsWe could discount this pattern – ‘New Orleans always underperforms the first two weeks, and they always bounce back!’   However, I think it’s telling that Sean Payton knew his team had underperformed the prior 5 years to start the season and still wasn’t able to turn this trend around.

The Saints as a team have looked as bad or worse than their 1 and 1 record.  On defense, the Saints have given up 27.5 points per game and rank 32nd in rush defense according to DVOA.  On offense, their struggles expand beyond the last two weeks.  Since week 16 last year, the Saints have failed to score a touchdown in 13 of their last 20 quarters.

Compare the 4-point move from the pre-season opener in this game, to the 9.5 move that has occurred in the Saints next game vs. Dallas. The Saints have gone from 7 point favorites to 2.5 point underdogs against the Cowboys at home next week.

Yes, the Cowboys have looked better than the Seahawks in their two wins.  Any metric will tell us this – yards per play, scoring margin, etc. But does that difference account for a 5.5 point greater upgrade than the Seahawks?  Neither team has played anybody noteworthy. Last week, the Cowboys earned a win in the familiar and Cowboy-friendly environment of FedEx Field against Washington.  The Seahawks beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1999 and only the second time in franchise history.

Yes, Big Ben went down but Big Ben doesn’t play on defense. Mason Rudolph tossed in 16 points in the second half, and the Seahawks still had a 9 point lead with the ball and under 6 minutes to go.  Young players like rookie DJ Metcalf are growing into their role like a young Doug Baldwin once did – surpassing everyone’s expectations.

C. ) How much do we upgrade/downgrade the Saints going from Brees to Bridgewater?

The Saints are 0-3 in games started by QBs other than Brees since 2006.  That’s a very small sample size, which itself is indicative of how uncharted these waters are for New Orleans.

Teddy Bridgewater is the highest-paid backup QB in the NFL.  But I think he’s a far cry from the best and may not be above average for his role.  Let’s take a look at his recent stats, compared to his early career statistics before he blew out his knee.

Bridgewater before 2015 knee injury:

551/849, 6150 yards, 28 TDs, 21 INTs, 7.23 YPA

Bridgewater since 2015 season knee injury:

31/55, 283 yards 1 TD, 2 INTS, 5.14 YPA

Last Sunday, Bridgewater posted a 10.8 QBR, which means about 90% of NFL quarterbacks would have performed better under the circumstances. Many gave him a pass here because he came in cold.  But so did Gardner Mishnew II for Jacksonville.  Mishnew played above league average in his NFL debut in Week 1 with far fewer weapons.  The Saints scored just 9 points with Bridgwater under center and failed to score a touchdown for the first time ever under Sean Payton.

The last time Bridgewater practiced with the Saints’ starters ahead of a game – Week 17 last year – the Saints got blown out by 19 as 7-point favorites vs. the Kyle Allen-led Panthers.  Just like he did last week, Teddy Two-Gloves threw for less than 5.5 yards per attempt in that loss – a number which would be by far the lowest in the league for a starting QB.

By my estimation, it would be generous to give the Saints only a 6-point downgrade from Brees to Bridgewater. The market only moved 4 points.  I like Seattle.

The Seahawks are 28-10 ATS under Pete Carroll when at home and favored by less than a touchdown. They are 15-0 SU in September home games under Carroll.

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Seattle Seahawks -9.5 (+170) vs. New Orleans Saints – .1 Units

Adding a speculative play on the Seahawks alternative spread here.  I think the Hawks could play their first clean, well-rounded game of the season.  And I think the Saints offense might score 9 points again.

So if I’m so convinced this line should 2-3 points higher, why not take the -4? Cause it’s my column and my money and I don’t appreciate you hassling me okay – that’s why!  To be honest – I’m warry of Sean Payton’s ability to rally his troops.  Even if they’re not as good as many think, I believe the Saints will play inspired in this spot and claw till the end.   Could easily see this game being decided in the 4th quarter – in which case, I will be very comfortable having Russell Wilson on my side of the ledger.  Wilson has 28 career Game-Winning Drives in the regular season and playoffs.

New Orleans Saints to Miss the Playoffs +130 – .25 Units

Here are some of the quotes surrounding this Saints team:

new orleans saints“Brees’ injury comes in what was supposed to be a redemptive season for the Saints, with Super Bowl expectations that could put to rest the anguish of missing the title game a year ago…” AP.

How exactly was it “supposed to be” a redemptive season?  Shouldn’t we wait until some are games are played and performances are proven before we anoint a team with an over-arching narrative about their perseverance?

“Whether it’s Bridgewater or [Taysom] Hill – or some combination of both – playing quarterback for the Saints on Sunday, you can bet the offense will truck along just fine as long as Kamara and Thomas are in the fold.” Seahawks Wire.

Just fine, they say.  Where is this expectation coming from?  They scored 9 points last week with those guys in the lineup.  They scored 14 against a bad team the last time they played without Brees.

Feels like we are in the middle of collective delusion.  Not only are many certain that this Saints roster is as good as ever, but there is also an expectation they will adjust easily despite being the most Quarterback-dependent team in the league over the last decade-plus.  I think the Saints go 2-5 without Brees, and when he comes back I’m not sure the 5’10, 40-year old will instantly slot in as the legend that he has been in his younger, pre-injury days.

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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