Detroit Lions (4-9 SU, 4-9 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-8 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: Monday, December 21, 2015, 8:30 pm EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET +3/NO -3
Over/Under Total: 51
Two NFC teams left to just playing out the final weeks of the season will get together for week 15 NFL action in the Superdome, when the Detroit Lions travel to the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Saints on ESPNs Monday Night Football.
After putting together a three-game win streak and looking like they may have turned things around, a Hail Mary against the Packers and a, 21-14, loss last Sunday at St. Louis has the Lions looking for answers once again. With the Lions only 1-5 on the road this season, finding a way to win on the carpet inside the Superdome will be a tall task for a team that hasnt gotten too many good bounces of late.
The Saints have also had a season to forget in 2015, although they did snap a four-game losing streak with a solid effort on the road at Tampa last Sunday when they hung on for a victory over their division rivals, 24-17. But sitting at the bottom of the NFC South looking up at the rest of the division is not how these Saints want to remember the season, so getting a win over the Lions at home inside the Superdome will be a great way to build into 2016.
With interest in both of these teams waning down the stretch, oddsmakers in Las Vegas opened this less-than-showcase game in primetime on Monday with New Orleans as the standard 3-point favorite at home. And even though most of the early money has been coming in on the Saints (60-40 in favor of New Orleans), the betting line hasnt moved much at all thus far. The over/under total opened at 51 and has dropped the hook to 50.5 at a few sportsbooks who have moved off the even number to take the push out of play.
If youve been watching the Lions at all for the past few years, you know that they have struggled to establish any type of running game at the expense of QB Mathew Staffords health. Issues along the offensive line have turned Stafford into a ping pong ball in the pocket this season, and the fact that the Lions have to throw the ball to move the chains often means hes getting hit way too much. However, the Saints bring the leagues 31st-ranked defense in total yards and the leagues worst run defense (136 ypg 32nd), so if ever there was a week for the Lions to get their running game going to control the clock this would be the week.
On the flip side, one of the biggest reasons the Saints were able to go on the road and beat the Buccaneers last week was their new-found dedication to the run. Tim Hightower continued his three-year comeback from major knee surgery to carry the ball 28 times for the Saints in the win and it opened up the play-action game for Drew Brees (312 yards, 2TD) in the middle of the field in their three tight end sets. The Saints will have to make sure to account for DE Ezekiel Ansah, but otherwise the Lions defense has been hammered by big plays as their 28th-ranked 25.8 point per game allowed average would indicate.
Historically, as you would expect the Saints have been tough to beat in the Superdome as they beat the Lions in three straight (2009 2012) all by big scores (45-28 in 12; 31-17 in 10; and 45-27 in 09). The Lions did win in the Superdome in 2005 (13-12) and 2000 (14-10), and beat them at home in Ford Field the last time these two met in 2014 (24-23), but overall the Saints are 6-4 SU and 7-3 ATS (5-2 ATS at home) against the Lions through the years.
Both teams are pretty good wagers on Monday Night Football too, with Detroit 4-1 ATS in their last five games in primetime, while the Saints are 6-2 ATS in their last eight on MNF. Considering the fact that neither of these teams have been too successful on defense this season, the fact that the under is 8-1 in Detroits last nine games on Monday Night could be a betting trend that is in jeopardy this week.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This game is a hard one to handicap because both teams have been a roller coaster every week Ive been burned by both teams this year. I know the trends say under and the total is dropping, but answer me this who in the Saints secondary is going to stop Calvin Johnson? And will the Lions stop Brees inside the Superdome where he always seems to chuck it very well. I just dont see this game staying under 50.5. Id lean toward the home team Saints, but just to be safe and not get burned again Im taking the over of 50.5.
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