I've enjoyed Rob Davies' betting analysis over the season, and although we have disagreed a few times on the picks, I value his viewpoint as much as any other expert handicapper over the season. His analysis focused on the side while many times I focus on the total when looking for value on any game. In fact, I often find it best to look at the side and total as a pair bet to get the most value and reduce your betting risk.
This weekend Seattle finds itself an 8 point favorite over the visiting Saints with the total set at 47 as of the writing of this article (and trending down to 46.5 at some books). To put it another way, Vegas is setting the line for the probability of a 27.5 - 19.5 Seattle win. The first step to find value in these lines is to ask ourselves, can the Saints score 20 points on the Hawks at CenturyLink on Saturday, in the rain and wind?
To be fair, New Orleans has scored an average of just under 26 points a game this year. However, I believe this is just the statistic that Vegas wants you to look at... "if NO scores their average of 26 and loses, which is likely given the spread, the game MUST go over the total!". Let's be more than the average dolt and dig deeper into their scoring tendencies though. New Orleans has failed to score at least 20 points just five times this season - all on the road. The teams? Tampa Bay (16) , Atlanta (17), Carolina (13), St. Louis (16), and Seattle (7). I'd like to think those last three teams have a little bit in common in the way of their front 7 and ability to pressure the QB and force turnovers. Add in the rain which should force New Orleans to attempt to establish the run, and chew up clock in the process, and you have a high probability of them going under their 20 points. For the record, all Seattle opponents average under 15 points a game this year.
Next question: Can Seattle score 28 points against New Orleans at home, in the rain and wind? Recent results suggest that they can, scoring 34 points against this same team just over a month ago. Yes, seven of those points came on a fumble return - but I would suggest that if the first team offense was on the field for the 4th quarter we could have scored more "if needed". Basically, with the addition of Percy Harvin, rest, and New Orleans injuries, I think that us putting together an "average" offensive showing is rather likely.
So we have our two leans, that New Orleans will score less than 20 points and Seattle will be "average" on offense. Our pair bet is then Seattle at -8 and the "Under". The risk is defined as a high scoring game or NO cover, which we have decided are the two lowest percentage probabilities of the four. Being wrong on one results in a push and living to fight another day (i.e. to bet against the 49ers on Sunday).
Finding added value by knowing seemingly useless information:
Seattle likes to defer if they win the toss. We've all seen it. The team is jacked up and the best way to harness the "reckless" energy is to get the LOB on the field immediately (as opposed to offensive "robot" RW energy). This has created a scoreless opening drive by our opponents countless times this season, maybe every time but I haven't looked it up. Scoreless drives take time off the clock. Many times I've seen in game threads - "The 1Q is over already?" Yup, opening scoreless drive and then the Hawks start establishing the run game. It's how we do. If you can, take advantage of this by finding a 1st Half Total and taking the Under which should be around 23.5.
Finding added value by forgetting last week:
Carolina can be found as much as a 3 point underdog online. WTF? This is the team that went into SF and won (We couldn't even do that). Vegas knows that you just saw an incredible win by the 49ers so they set the line to get half the action on one side. That's all there is to it. Try to forget last week.
As this game is essentially a toss-up for me, I'm using teasers to get some extra points on my side. For instance, I am teasing Seattle -1.5 with Carolina +9.5. Can you even comprehend Carolina v SF to be a blowout by either team? It's going to be a slugfest.
Score Prediction: SEA 24 - NO 13 (1st Half Total - 16)
Seattle - 8 (I actually found it at 7.5 and bought it down to 7)
Seattle v NO Under 47 (or 1st Half Under 23.5)
Teaser: Seattle -1.5, Carolina +9.5 (Teased 6.5 points)