San Francisco 49ers (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date and Time: Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SF +4/NO -4
Over/Under Total: 49
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In a very important game for both teams, the San Francisco 49ers will meet the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the Superdome. Both teams have struggled at 4-4 and are eager to poke their nose above the .500 mark with the season now in its second-half. New Orleans has won two in a row, including a 28-10 win at Carolina last Thursday. The 49ers have lost two in a row, sandwiching their bye week.
The 49ers will need to martial all their inner resources to bounce back and go on a long and difficult road trip following what happened on Sunday. Facing the St. Louis Rams, a team they beat on the road by 14 just a few weeks prior, they lost at home, 13-10. What made it sting was how they failed to punch it in from real close with the go-ahead TD as the game ended, with Colin Kaepernick fumbling the ball on a sneak, giving the unlikely win to the Rams. Coming off a bye week and looking to begin their second-half run, the loss was a bitter one indeed.
While the Saints have the same record as the 49ers, they are a team with a renewed view on the season based on the last two weeks. At 2-4 and the season getting sideways, the Saints were at a crossroads and responded with heart and character. First came the 44-23 home win over the hot Packers. And they followed that with a lopsided road game win over the Panthers. By outscoring their last two opponents, 72-33, the Saints have looked a lot better, especially on defense.
After their 2-4 start, the Saints defense was looking like the historically inept unit of a few seasons ago. Opposing offenses were running wild on the Saints. But as the Saints defense has picked up their game, its allowed the offense to shine. And what an offense it is. Drew Brees is really rounding into shape and is making full use of a loaded offense, with massive weaponry in the passing-game with Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, and blossoming rookie Brandin Cooks.
What may make the Saints a team worth watching in the second half is a run-game that is becoming a high-octane unit. If Mark Ingram can continue becoming the player many thought he would become, that would give this offense yet another dimension. RB Khiry Robinson is also providing a big push. This is a high-octane offense that now has the balance it needs to start doing some special things.
The 49ers have an offense that on paper, should be a ton better than it is. With 27 points in their last two games, this has become a solidly underachieving group. And they even had an extra week to figure it out, before putting up a pitiful 10 points at home against the Rams–in a game they really needed to win. With so many weapons, the constant struggle to put up points is a bit mystifying.
San Franciscos defense is still ranked in the top-five in both rushing and pass D, but they are 15th in points allowed. It hasnt been a very clutch group, undoubtedly plagued by the never-ending stream of injuries that have befallen nearly every top player on this defense. Theyre certainly not good enough to win games for the Niners, while their offense continues to be stuck in reverse. A lot of this happened before the season or early on in the campaign. A little more responsibility was supposed to fall on the offense and they simply have failed to pick up the slack. If anything, theyre worse than last season.
The 49ers have become a top power in the NFC over the past few seasons by answering the call when the urgency is at its highest. While that failed to materialize last week in what appeared to be a must-win game, there is no disputing that the 49ers need a win here to remain viable this season. And when those situations have surfaced over the past few years, the 49ers have stepped up with a big effort. Its just that its going to require a really special effort from San Francisco to shake off the frustration from last week and come into the Superdome to beat a New Orleans team that worked hard to build this momentum and wont be separated from it easily. Its going to be really tough. And when you hear about the Frisco locker room, it makes you wonder if theyre all on the same page.
The Saints arent unbeatable at home by any means, but they are better at the Superdome, where things seem to click for them better on both sides of the ball. The spot the Niners are in and their recent history makes this look like a decent bounce-back game candidate. Its just that lining up opposite them is a team that is trying to make up for lost ground in their own right, though they actually lead the NFC South at 4-4. I like the Saints.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the New Orleans Saints minus 4 points.