Are you ready to make some money in week 10 or what? My plans for Sunday afternoon include watching football and watching my wallet get fatter. In order to do that, I started scoping out the slate for this weekend and one of the games jumped right off the page. Like it was screaming out at me to go make a bet.
Don’t get me wrong, I care about watching exciting football. What I am more interested in is those games that I see an opening, in terms of the betting prospects. I look for discrepancies between what I believe will happen and what the line is.
This week, I see both. I see two quality teams fighting for playoff births which makes for a thrilling game. I also see a clear opportunity to win some money. I intend to spend the next few sections discussing why I think targeting the Saints vs. Bills game on Sunday is a can’t miss spot.
Who’s Playing: New Orleans Saints (6-2) at Buffalo Bills (5-3)
Where: New Era Field Buffalo, New York
When: Sunday 11/12 1:00 pm EST
Opening Line: Saints -2.5 O/U 48.5
The New Orleans Saints go on the road this week and travel north up to Buffalo, NY. The game will be played at 1:00 pm local time at New Era Field in front of 70,000 plus screaming Bills fans. Both teams are in a position to make the playoffs. However, whoever loses this game will have that much harder of a time getting there.
In order to break down this matchup, we need to look at both sides of the ball. What are the Bills trying to do on the offensive side of the ball? How will Drew Brees attack the Bills defense? Grab a drink, get comfortable and read along as I dive in and answer those questions.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the 2.5-point road favorites.
After starting the year 0-2, the New Orleans Saints appeared to be on track for another disappointing to mediocre season. Fast forward to present day and the Saints have reeled off six straight victories. How will they make it seven in a row this Sunday in Buffalo? What kind of strategies will they employ to score points?
Well, let’s take a further at how they’ve been getting it done during this six-game winning streak.
It all starts with Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback has been doing what he has done for the past decade in the NFL- be as consistent and accurate as they come. His 71.6% completion percentage tops all quarterbacks in the National Football League.
When I was doing my homework, there was one stat that really caught me by surprise. I am never shocked to see Brees near or at the top of any of the passing categories. What I didn’t expect to see what that Drew Brees has been sacked less than any other starting QB in the league.
While much of that credit goes to Brees’s ability to read the defense and deliver the ball quickly, something must be said for the job that the offensive line has done. Allowing only eight sacks in eight games is a credit to the guys up front in the trenches.
The offense is piling up numbers. Sean Payton’s squad is second in the league in yards per game and 6th in the league in points per game. Besides the consistency of Brees and the offensive line, rookie 3rd round pick Alvin Kamara has been a pleasant surprise for the organization.
They knew this speedster out of the University of Tennessee could be a factor. But they’d be lying if they told you that they thought through week 9 the only running back in the NFL with more than 300 rushing yards and 300 passing yards would be their 22-year old first-year back.
Kamara has dazzled in the passing game, primarily on third down when they need big plays. The 5’10” 215 lb stud has also shown he has the ability to run in between the tackles and pick up important yards.
There is a reason the Saints organization was more than happy trading away the services of Adrian Peterson after week 5. They liked what they saw out of Kamara out of the gates and the rest of us are now catching on.
I know Brees can sling it around. Kamara and Mark Ingram provide balance in the backfield. What about the other side of the ball?
In most years, writing a section talking about the New Orleans Saints defense would sound more like an attempt at writing pathetic comedy. The Saints had gotten into a habit of being among the worst defenses in the NFL for longer than fans in New Orleans want to talk about. Not this year.
Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has his guys playing with a passion. The Saints are currently in the top-10 in sacks and points allowed per game. The last time they ranked in the top-10 in both of those categories- well I don’t think I was old enough to type this blog out, that’s for sure.
So, let’s take stock. They are top-10 in sacks and they are third in the NFL in pass deflections. Something tells me this is an aggressive bunch that likes to blitz. This strategy might not work as well this particular week against a mobile quarterback such as Tyrod Taylor.
It will be interesting to see how the Saints decide to defend the Bills offense. Being aggressive has gotten them this far, so I expect to see them go for it this weekend. Don’t be surprised if the Bills are able to pull off a big play or two because of that.
Speaking of the Bills, let’s peek at how first-year coach Sean McDermott plans to attack the Saints when they clash Sunday afternoon.
Despite some serious signs of inconsistency, the Bills find themselves sitting at 5-3, right in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The team has a lot of new faces in place, including at the helm of it all. I expected to see some struggles early on. Their performance in week 2 scoring 3 points was an example of the hardships they experienced.
What I didn’t expect to see was the “excuse of an effort” they displayed last Thursday night against the New York Jets. I get it, Thursdays are tough as everyone is on a short week and still recovering from the aches and pains from the previous game.
But come one guys. Really? This game wasn’t even as close as the 34-21 final. The Jets commanded this game from the kick-off and even led 34-7 with 4 minutes to go in the ball game. Two late touchdowns made the final tally seem less embarrassing than this butt-whooping really was.
I don’t want to spend too much time on this past “laugher of a performance”, as many players just weren’t in the correct mindset by the time Thursday evening came around. However, I did want to mention it and keep you guys aware. The Bills are clearly a team in progress. On a positive note, this means that because they played on Thursday, they will have had an extra few days to prepare and rest by the time the Saints roll into town.
I want to look closer at what the team excels and what they need to improve on. Let’s start with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s group.
The Bills offense, while they would like to be two-dimensional, really isn’t there yet. There is no secret. The Bills want to run the ball early and they want to run the ball often. The Bills are 31st out of the 32 NFL teams in passing attempts per game.
On the flip side, they are 4th in the NFL in rushing attempts per game. Why is that?
Well, they have a feature back in LeSean McCoy who has proven he can carry the load. They also have a quarterback who has excellent speed and ability to escape the pocket. Tyrod Taylor isn’t lacking in arm strength, but his accuracy on the short to medium throws certainly is nothing like the opposing quarterback in this game, Drew Brees.
The Bills are smart, so they play to Taylor’s strengths. He may be less accurate than most starting quarterbacks, but he sure can run the ball better than just about any of them. Taylor is one of only five quarterbacks who can currently say they have rushed for more than 200 yards in the 2017 campaign.
At home this week against a Saints team that is active and likes to blitz, I look for Tyrod to use his legs as a weapon. Despite being November in Buffalo, temperatures are supposed to be mild and there is no real threat of serious rain or snow at this point.
I don’t expect the Bills to go too far away from their bread and butter, which is running the football. Controlling the time of possession and keeping Brees and the potent Saints offense off the field will be on the forefront of Coach McDermott’s mind.
Worst-case scenario if Brees is on the field, at least the Bills have a more than capable defense behind them.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has his defense playing great. Other than their disgusting showing against the Jets last week, the Bills have actually been productive on the defensive side of the ball.
The 15 fumbles the Bills have forced lead the entire NFL.
Only the Eagles have deflected more passes than Buffalo and only the Ravens have intercepted more balls. How the tremendous secondary of Buffalo matches up with the Saints wide receivers will certainly be an interesting battle to keep an eye on. The high-powered air-attack of the Saints is used to getting their way, so what will happen this coming Sunday?
The Saints average nearly 28 points per game while the Bills defense only surrenders 18.6 points per contest. Something is going to have to give on Sunday.
Here’s what I think will happen.
As I like to do when I make all my picks, I like to look at and base everything on actual facts. I don’t take much stock in what I hear on the radio or what my friends tell me. I simply look at the data, compare that with what I see on the field, and I make my best judgments.
This week, I am focusing on where this game is being played. It only takes a little research to dig into Drew Brees home vs road splits. I’ll save you some time and fill you in- Drew Brees performs MUCH better at home in the dome compared to when he plays on the road. When he plays at an outdoor stadium, his numbers take an even bigger dip.
I am not questioning the skill or arm-talent of Brees. I am just looking at the facts ladies and gentlemen. Men and women lie. The numbers don’t.
As much as I admire and respect Brees, this spot on the road in Buffalo isn’t one I see him excelling in. When I saw that the online and Vegas sportsbooks opened this game with the Saints as a 2.5 point road favorites, my initial thoughts were confirmed.
Anytime I see an NFL line at 2.5, I know one thing. The online betting sites are begging me to bet that side. They are aware that bettors pay close attention to key numbers such as “3” or “7”. By leaving the line at 2.5, they know potential bettors think of this as “getting a good deal”. They hate laying 3 or 3.5, so laying 2.5 sounds like a bargain.
You know what they say in life and it rings true in sports betting as well- “when something seems too good to be true, it’s because it usually is.”
Don’t fall into the deception that thinking the Saints at -2.5 is a “bargain of a bet”. It’s actually the opposite, it’s a trap. Just as I predicted, the line quickly moved up to Saints -3 as the betting public scurried onto the sites to place what they thought was a great wager.
If you know anything about me, you know I like to fade the public. If the average guy in the casino thinks the Saints is the proper bet, you can almost be certain I will want to take the opposite side.
In this specific game, I really think this is a letdown spot for the Saints and their fans. The six-game winning streak is eventually going to end. I have a feeling that streak comes to a screeching halt this weekend at the hands of the stifling Bills defense.
The more I examine the information, the more it continues to add up:
There you have it. I don’t like to overthink and overcomplicate things. If and when I see a bet I like, I pounce on it and try and take advantage. This week, the Bills currently at +3 is that bet. Enjoy watching the action unfold this Sunday and good luck betting!
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