Are Sportsbooks Undervaluing Home Field in Rams vs Saints?
Los Angeles Rams (8-0 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, November 4, 4:25 PM EST
Where: Superdome, New Orleans, LA
By Keith Allen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAR +1 / NO -1
Over/Under Total: 60
The New Orleans Superdome will be the site for one of the most anticipated games of the 2018 season when Sean McVay brings his Rams to the Big Easy to face Sean Payton’s Saints. This is a match up of the two best teams in the NFC, and possibly will determine who will have the home field advantage in the playoffs. The Saints are short home favorites, with the best line at online sportsbooks at around -1 -120, and they are the play. Here is the handicap.
Brees Is the Better Quarterback
These teams are comparable in almost every phase of the game. McVay and Payton are both top 5 coaches and play callers. Todd Gurley is the best running back in the league, but Alvin Kamara with a little Mark Ingram sprinkled in is just a small step behind Gurley. Michael Thomas will be the best receiver on the field but the Rams trio of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp make the receiving corps equal. The Saints have a better offensive line but the Rams have a better defensive line. With Aquib Talib sidelined there is no difference in the defensive backfields. That leaves the quarterbacks, which is the position that really matters. Here the Saints have the advantage.
Brees’ history is well documented, super bowl champion, now the all-time leader in passing yards, 7 playoff wins and 31 4th quarter comebacks. He is playing at an MVP level this year. Goff has been very impressive since McVay came to Los Angeles. He is 19-4 under McVay, and has elevated his game in 2018, completing 67% of his passes and averaging over 300 yards per contest. But Goff has yet to prove he is ready for this stage. In the playoffs last year Goff was the weakest quarterback of the 6 NFC teams, completing only 53% of passes on the way to a 26-13 loss to the Falcons. That stage was too big for Goff, and this is the most similar setting for Goff since that loss.
Look for Brees to make plays that Goff is unable to make at some point late in the game that turn the tide of this game to the Saints.
Home Cooking Will be the Difference
Home field advantage in the NFL is not one size fits all. Although there is a general narrative that home field is always worth 3 points, some teams have almost no advantage playing at home such as the 2 LA teams (the crowd in last week’s Rams vs Packers game was predominantly Green Bay fans despite a 7-0 Ram team), San Francisco and Cincinnati. Others have a home field advantage based on external factors such as playing in the Miami humidity or Denver altitude especially early in the season. Others have a fan base that is so passionate that the stadium is so loud opposing offenses can’t communicate at the line of scrimmage – especially when these teams are winning and playing a tough game. Seattle and New Orleans are the founding members of this club, and have a home field advantage that should be valued at closer to 4 points, especially when these teams are winning and playing a tough game.
Sportsbook Spotlight: Bovada Sportsbook Review
Who-Dat nation will show up strong for this game. The dome in the Big Easy will be rocking like nothing Goff has seen in his young career. LA likes to audible and change plays at the line of scrimmage, but that may not be an option this week. The Saints are 10-2 at home over the last 2 seasons with both losses coming in week 1 of each season. Home teams are winning 61% of NFL games this year, and with this basically being a Pick-em game, the home field advantage gives the Saints a big edge in this game.
New Orleans Is the Hotter Team
If we ask 100 NFL experts who the better team is in this match-up 50 will say the Rams and 50 will say the Saints. And if we ask those 100 experts to tell us the weaknesses of these teams, the list will be very short. Both offenses average 33 points per game, over 6 yards per play, convert over 40% of third downs and have weapons that make defenses defend the whole field. The Ram defense has better stats than the Saints, but they are both middle of the pack units that are good enough to win Super Bowls in the 2018 NFL.
However, coming into week 9, the Saints are definitely the team that is at the top of their game. Over the last 3 weeks they have beaten teams with a combined 13 victories by a total of 35 points. Meanwhile over the Rams last 4 games, other than a blowout win against the 49ers, they have beaten 3 teams with a total of 10 wins by a total of 7 points. New Orleans has gone on the road and beaten the Ravens and Vikings in consecutive weeks while those teams were playing their best football of 2018. The Rams have wins against quality teams such as the Chargers, Vikings and Packers, but caught each of those teams when they were not playing their best ball. New Orleans is on a 5-0 ATS streak, while the Rams are 1-4 ATS in their last 5.
NFL Pick: Saints -1
This game is the jewel on the NFL schedule in week 9, and with the firepower of the offenses may be the most entertaining game of the year. The line implies the Rams are the better team giving value to Saints. Take the hotter team, the best QB and the home field and play New Orleans at -1 in the Big Easy.