New Orleans Saints (3-4 SU, 5-2 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (1-6 SU, 1-6 ATS)
Week 9 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: NO -3/SF +3
Over/Under Total: 51
The New Orleans Saints come to Levi's Stadium to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in week nine NFC action. The Niners are coming off the bye week, where they are hoping some things got figured out to get this back on the right track. After a shutout win over the Rams to open the season, it's been all south for the Niners, with 6 straight losses. Their backers haven't fared any better with six straight non-covers. New Orleans scored a very nice win at home, 25-20, over the Seattle Seahawks. Though they certainly have their share of issues, the Saints have now won three out of four and are still in the mix in the wide-open NFC South.
Maybe it was the dominant week one win for the 49ers, but the numbers have been way off in an against the spread sense. They've missed covering the last five games by a combined 67.5 points with them missing the spread by 37 points in their last two games. They just haven't been a very attractive bet in recent weeks. In week 7 before getting a bye, they lost to Tampa at home, 34-17. It's hard to see the silver lining at this point.
The Niners were hoping that maybe Colin Kaepernick could rediscover some of his vanished form from when he took this team to the Super Bowl. But his 16-for-34 performance for just 143 yards and a TD and a pick left a lot to be desired against Tampa. He did run for 84 yards and it was his first action of the season so maybe you cut him some slack. But there's no denying that his fall from grace is among the most precipitous non-injury-related collapses in recent memory. It's as if he's lost most of whatever mojo he once had.
The San Fran offense has scored between 16 and 21 points each of the past five games. With one of the worst defenses in the league, that's not going to get it done, either in a straight-up sense or in an ATS perspective. If they get Carlos Hyde (questionable) back, perhaps he and Kaepernick can get the ground-game going. With just 143 yards passing on 34 attempts in his last game, however, whether Kap can get the aerial offense moving is very iffy. He wasn't that great at it when the Niners were solid contenders a few years ago. Now, with a stripped cast of underachieving receivers, the prospects are dim. No team gets less done through the air than the Niners. The big plays from Vance McDonald have disappeared. Torrey Smith has all but vanished. Quinton Patton's performances have been lukewarm. It's a disheartening situation.
Whereas the Niners could at one time depend on their defense to bail them out of crisis, that side of the ball has grown into a major liability. They've been hit by injuries, which hasn't helped. Still, they are a veritable laughingstock against the run, ranked last in the league. They give up an average of over 31 points per game, with only one other team in the league giving up more. The front has neither applied a good pass rush, nor have they been able to stop much of anything against the run. They're just not making plays. Sometimes, they provide a little resistance, while most of the time, they're just "there" and getting run past by opposing offenses.
It was impressive how the Saints were able to switch up their approach with the tough Seattle pass-defense in town on Sunday. They perfectly split up the plays, with 35 runs and 35 passing attempts. Rather than let it fly and see what happens, they took it straight to the Seahawks, manhandling them on the inside and executing an effective run game. They got another good performance from enlivened Tim Hightower out of the backfield. And their defense, which has been a liability for the most part this season, made enough good plays and key stops to help register the key win. Suddenly, the Saints are a team with a future.
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Drew Brees is still a handful and while his stats were down from their normal level on Sunday, he way he commandeered the offense was perhaps even more impressive. Hightower ran for over 100 yards with some timely runs along the way. Through the air, weapons like Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, and others do a good job. And when New Orleans is able to run the ball, good things usually happen. While the line sometimes struggles to spring a run game, they have done well in keeping Brees out of trouble for most of the season.
The New Orleans defense benefitted from facing an off-key Seattle offense at home on Sunday. But against offenses like Seattle's or the one they face this week, they are not in as bad of shape as when facing high-flying units. Only one other team has given up more points than the Saints this season. But 47 points allowed in their last two games is a step forward, as is their increasingly clutch play and ability to make big things happen from time to time. You just get the feeling that the Saints players and coaches started to feel the squeeze in the past few weeks and have responded.
It might be difficult for some to get behind San Francisco at this point. But they did have a bye week to lick their wounds and come up with something. In addition, it's a long road trip for a Saints team coming off a difficult game against the Seahawks. It's easy to picture both offenses having some success, but the Saints recent spurt is a source of promise. I see them manufacturing a good win on the road on Sunday.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New Orleans Saints minus 3 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the New Orleans vs. San Francisco game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!