In a matchup of NFC powerhouses, the San Francisco 49ers travel to New Orleans to face the Saints for a potential NFC Championship preview on Sunday. Both clubs come in the game at 10-2, and while New Orleans’ success is not surprising, San Francisco’s continued success after a surprising 8-0 start is somewhat surprising.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been back for five weeks now and has shown little signs of effect from the thumb injury that kept him out for six weeks early on. Since returning in Week 8, Brees has a .726 completion percentage and is averaging 276 yards and two touchdowns per contest against only 0.4 interceptions. The Saints are also 4-1 in those five games.
For the Niners, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has become one of the steadier quarterbacks in the league after a tough performance against Seattle in a Nov. 11 loss. In his last three games, Garoppolo is averaging 280 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game with a 121.4 rating. Regardless of the 49ers’ offensive play, the heart of this team resides with their defense, where they rank second in the league against the pass.
New Orleans is a 2.5-point favorite playing at home in this game, while the over/under has been set at 44.5 points.
Will The Niners Strike Gold?
The 49ers are 7-5 ATS so far this season with seven of their 12 games hitting the under. Given their stout defense and somewhat inconsistent offense, neither is really a shock. It would be safe to assume that the Niners will face a tall order against the Saints on turf and in a dome where receivers tend to run better and faster.
Will Payton And Brees Be Blessed With Home-Field Advantage?
The Saints are 8-4 ATS this season with a season split on the over/under. While the Saints are known to have one of the most consistently prolific offenses in the NFL, they’re currently only ninth in the league in points per game and actually rank behind the Niners in that stat. This offense is not as prolific as people may assume, and their defense, which is better than it has been historically, is still allowing nearly 21 points per game.
San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints NFL Pick and Prediction
This line opened at Saints by three but has since shrunk a bit. An interesting trend is that Brees is 53-32 ATS after the Saints have won back-to-back games. The Saints have actually won three in a row at this point, but the trend remains. Normally, you would also assume that home field would be a distinct advantage for the Saints, and they are 5-1 at home this season, but the Niners are also 5-1 on the road.
Expect this game to come down to the wire, and the betting trend is a gift, as it should come down to whoever has the ball last. Lay the 2.5 and play the under. Saints 23-20.