Monday Night Football Picks: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/16/2015
I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong, which hopefully isn't too frequent, but I was definitely wrong on the New Orleans Saints this season and was to a lesser extent on the Detroit Lions. They are the rather uninspiring Monday night matchup this week.
I fully expected the Lions (4-9) to take a bit of a step back this season from an 11-5 mark in 2014 after they lost Ndamukong Suh, among a few others. But I didn't think it would be too drastic as the team was able to keep highly-regarded defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and it still had a very potent-looking offense with QB Matthew Stafford and receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Now the Lions may as well mail it in and try for a Top-5 draft pick. Right now they would pick No. 7.
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New Orleans (5-8) was my pick to win the NFC South. Yes, the team traded guys like Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this offseason, but the offensive line was supposed to be better in getting center Max Unger from Seattle in that Graham deal. Loved the signing of free-agent running back C.J. Spiller, and while the defense didn't look great it seemed good enough to win a bad division. Uh, not so much. The Saints are currently picking No. 12 in the 2016 draft.
Lions at Saints Betting Story Lines
I doubt that either head coach, Detroit's Jim Caldwell or New Orleans' Sean Payton, is back next year. Well, I know Caldwell won't be. The Lions already cleaned house in the front office. Payton is still thought of extremely highly around the NFL as an offensive mind, so the Saints probably could get a pretty good draft pick for him in trade. They won't just let him walk away from his contract for nothing.
New Orleans is still fine on offense with Drew Brees continuing to play at a very good level, if not an MVP one. The Saints are No. 4 in total offense and No. 2 in passing. But they are scoring only 24.8 points per game because the running game is not good. Spiller has been a total flop, and now Mark Ingram is out for the season. This team needs to completely wipe the slate clean on defense as the Saints rank last in most major categories. It has been slightly better since Payton dumped defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and promoted former Raiders head coach Dennis Allen into the role. The Saints ended a four-game skid last Sunday in Tampa with a 24-17 win, holding the Bucs to only 291 total yards.
Brees threw for 312 yards and two scores in that one and is tied with Peyton Manning for the most career 300-yard games at 93. Tim Hightower has come out of nowhere to take over the featured back role with Ingram out and had 28 carries for 85 yards and a score -- his first NFL TD since 2011.
The wind totally went out of the Lions' sails when they lost on that Hail Mary at home to Green Bay in Week 13. Detroit should have been 5-7 and with momentum and playoff hope heading to St. Louis last week. But the Lions were flat in a 21-14 loss to the Rams. The lone bright spot was Matthew Stafford topping 25,000 yards passing in his 90th career game, fastest in NFL history. Hall of Famer Dan Marino did it in his 92nd game. But Stafford has had a largely disappointing season as his 63.9 rating on third down is one of the NFL's worst.
Stafford has gotten no help from an atrocious running game that's last in the NFL. I still think 2015 second-round running back Ameer Abdullah can be a good player in this league. Expect the defense to be largely addressed this offseason, although end Ezekiel Elliott is having a great season with 13.5 sacks. Top linebacker DeAndre Levy has barely played this year and is done.
In Week 7 last year at Ford Field, the Lions ended a four-game losing streak in the series with a 24-23 win over New Orleans. Stafford threw a 73-yard touchdown with 3:38 left to Tate to cut the Saints' lead to 23-17. Then the Lions' Glover Quin picked off Brees, and Stafford hit Corey Fuller on a 5-yard score with 1:48 left to pull ahead. That TD came after New Orleans' Rafael Bush was called for pass interference on fourth down to give Detroit new life. The Lions played without Johnson. Tate stepped up with 10 catches for 154 yards. Stafford threw for 299 and those two scores along with two picks. Brees threw for 342 and two touchdowns with the one interception. During one stretch in the fourth quarter, Brees went 10 straight passes without a completion, the longest dry spell of his career.
Lions at Saints Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New Orleans is a 3-point favorite (-115) with a total of 50.5. On the moneyline, the Saints are -165 and Lions +145. On the alternate lines, the Saints are -3.5 (+110) and -2.5 (-140). Detroit is 4-9 against the spread (2-4 on road) and 7-6 "over/under" (2-4 on road). New Orleans is 6-6-1 ATS (3-2-1 at home) and 7-5-1 O/U (3-2-1 at home).
The Lions are 4-1 ATS in their past five Monday games. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five after a loss. The Saints are 6-2 ATS in their past eight on Monday. They are 0-6 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 8-1 in Detroit's past nine Monday games. The over is 5-2 in New Orleans' past seven after a win. The Lions are 0-5 ATS in the past five meetings.
Monday Night Football Picks: Lions at Saints Betting Predictions
Overall, the Saints are 18-19 on Monday night and 14-14 at home. They lost their most recent Monday night home game to Baltimore, 34-27, last year. Before that, they won seven straight Monday night games at home dating to 2008. New Orleans has won three straight at home vs. Detroit, two in prime-time. I'll say it's four in a row, but I'm only giving 2.5. Go over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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