Monday Night Football Picks: Saints at Seahawks Week 13 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 11/29/2013
For all the bad football we have been subjected to this season on "Monday Night Football" -- and there is some talk that there could be games flexed to MNF in a season or two -- it all gets forgotten this week when Seattle hosts New Orleans. I fully expect this to be a preview of the NFC Championship Game. Where that is held likely will be determined by Monday's winner.
Seattle (10-1) leads the Saints (9-2) by a game for the NFC's top seed. The Seahawks have yet to lose under Russell Wilson at home, and they usually pummel opponents there, save for a trap game in Week 9 that Seattle was fortunate to win against Tampa Bay. Seattle is going to win the NFC West and almost assuredly will be the No. 1 seed with a win here considering it would have the head-to-head tiebreaker against New Orleans (and Carolina).
New Orleans needs this one much more because the scorching-hot Panthers are just a game behind it in the NFC South. So the runner-up of that division is looking at all road games as a wild card and the two teams still play twice (including a game that has been flexed to next Sunday night). The Saints simply don’t lose at home under Sean Payton, and Drew Brees needs to play in a dome because his numbers outside aren't the same. It's a team built for a track meet inside (the Saints are 0-3 in playoff road games under Payton). That will most likely be a problem come February at MetLife Stadium should New Orleans make the Super Bowl, but that's something for another day.
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Saints at Seahawks Betting Story Lines
Pete Carroll is obviously a great coach, but his USC program ran amok under his watch, and it's now like Seattle is becoming Marijuana U. It's an interesting dilemma for the NFL, because that's legal in Washington, but obviously an employer has a right to enforce its own rules. Two Seattle cornerbacks were recently suspended for violating the substance-abuse policy, Brandon Browner (a starter) and Walter Thurmond. Browner is facing a year because he was suspended the final four games of last year for the same reason. Both are out, although Browner's is technically for injury reasons, but he's appealing the suspension. Thurmond's was four games, and he took it.
Seattle has the best secondary in the NFL and is No. 2 in pass defense while tied for the league lead in picks. So that makes for a fascinating matchup with Brees. Only six times has a QB thrown for 5,000 yards in the NFL, and Brees is responsible for three of them. He's on pace for another. Don't rule him out yet for NFL MVP. Brees is behind Peyton Manning in pretty much every significant passing category, and Manning is the huge 4/11 MVP favorite. He also has come back to earth a bit. Brees (13/4) could get a huge boost with a big game Monday night and if Manning struggles Sunday against Kansas City and the Broncos lose their second straight.
In a cool twist, Brees is Wilson's idol. In many ways, Brees opened the door for short quarterbacks like Wilson in the NFL. Wilson (33/1) might finish No. 3 in the MVP voting if it were taken today. He is one touchdown pass away from becoming only the fourth player in NFL history to throw 20 TD passes in each of his first two seasons. If you redo the 2013 draft, I think Wilson goes second behind Andrew Luck instead of RGIII -- of course, Wilson was a third-round pick.
There is some good news for Seattle in that receiver Percy Harvin, the team's big offseason acquisition, made his season debut in Seattle's last game off hip surgery, catching a 17-yard pass and returning a kick 58 yards. The Hawks need him because that receiving corps left much to be desired, especially after losing Sidney Rice the rest of the season. Originally the plan was to take the snap count limit off Harvin, but apparently his hip is bothering him a bit. He'll still play.
Saints at Seahawks NFL Week 13 Betting Odds and Trends
At Bovada, Seattle is a five-point favorite with a total of 47.5. The Saints are 6-5 ATS (1-4 on road) and 5-6 “over/under” (2-3 on road). The Seahawks are 7-4 ATS (3-2 at home) and 6-5 O/U (3-2 at home). New Orleans is 5-0 ATS in its past five Monday games. It is 4-1 ATS in its past five after an ATS loss. New Orleans is 0-4 ATS in its past four after a win. Seattle is 5-1-1 ATS in its past seven Monday games. It is 10-2 ATS in its past 12 against teams with a winning record. The over is 12-2 in Seattle's past 14 December games. The under is 6-1 in the Saints' past seven against the NFC.
Monday Night Football Picks: Saints at Seahawks Betting Predictions
The last time these two played in Seattle was the 2011 (2010 season) wild-card game in which a 7-9 Seahawks team that was the first under-.500 division winner in NFL history upset New Orleans. Seattle's Marshawn Lynch had one of the great runs in NFL history in that game. Think of how far the NFC West has come since then.
I'm not sure any team is more impacted by the elements than the Saints, and it looks to be almost-freezing temperatures with rain/snow showers by kickoff. That's a huge advantage for the more physical Seahawks, even as good as the Saints' defense has been this year. I think Lynch is the difference here. In New Orleans' two losses, at New England and the Jets, they struggled against the run. Plus, you add in perhaps the NFL's best and loudest home crowd and the fact that Seattle had two weeks to prepare, and I'm don't believe this will be all that close. Take Seattle and the under.
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