NFL Handicapping: Any Value in Saints Futures Odds?
by Ricky Dimon - 10/2/2012
Bounty-gate was never expected to end well for the New Orleans Saints, but few could have imagined that it would have turned out like this through four weeks of the 2012 NFL season.
The Saints, who went 13-3 last year and had compiled a 37-11 record over the course of the three previous regular seasons, are a shocking 0-4. Is another Super Bowl victory out of the question? Well, to heck with the Super Bowl. Can they still win the NFC South? Can they even make the playoffs, for crying out loud?
Not getting easier in Big Easy
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This isn’t just 0-4; this is a bad 0-4. New Orleans opened by losing at home to Washington—a Washington team that is 2-2 with a loss to St. Louis and a home loss to Cincinnati. Drew Brees and company then fell to Carolina—a Carolina team that lost to Tampa Bay, got humiliated at home by the Giants, 36-7, and is 1-3 overall. The Saints followed that up by succumbing at home to lowly Kansas City—a Kansas City team that is 1-3 and has suffered all three of its losses by at least 16 points.
If the completed part of the New Orleans Saints schedule looks bad, the upcoming slate may look even worse. In a six-week span from Oct. 28 to Dec. 9, New Orleans plays the Falcons (currently 4-0) twice, goes on the road to the Broncos and Giants, and hosts the Eagles and 49ers. All five of those games are against legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Against all odds
As if that isn’t enough, history also is not on the side of the Saints. Only one team—one—has reached the playoffs after starting a season 0-4. That’s one out of (according to Elias) 183 teams that started 0-4 prior to 2012; that’s 0.546 percent for those counting.
The 1992 San Diego Chargers were winless through four weeks only to win 11 of their last 12 and steal the AFC West at 11-5. They shut out visiting Kansas City, 17-0, in the wild-card round then got shut out, themselves, at Miami, 31-0, in the divisional playoffs.
That’s why bettors can jump on the Saints right now, according to Sportsbook.ag, at +1500 to win the NFC South (the same odds as Carolina and Tampa Bay), +6000 to win the NFC (even more of a longshot than Carolina at +5000), and +10,000 to win the Super Bowl (the same odds as current AFC laughingstocks New York and Buffalo).
Hope springs eternal?
Maybe one of those plays is a play worth taking. Four weeks does not a season make, and there is reason for at least some semblance of hope. New Orleans’ most recent effort was more encouraging, as the team went down at Green Bay last Sunday, 28-27, in a game that swung on a late missed field goal. The Saints have remained healthy and Brees is still Brees, set to break the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. There’s also a chance they will get linebacker Jonathan Vilma back from suspension.
Furthermore, the Saints find themselves in the only NFL division in which just one team (Atlanta) is .500 or better. They need a meltdown by the Falcons—nobody else—to get right back in the south race. New Orleans is a distant three games out of a wild-card spot, but several teams currently in playoff position are either unproven or uninspiring. That list includes Arizona, Chiago, Minnesota, and Philadelphia.
Sure, this probably won’t end well for “Who Dat Nation”. But it’s not over yet.
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