Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 1:00 PM
Nothing much is at stake Monday Night when the Detroit Lions visit the New Orleans Saints on ESPN. Neither team is anywhere near the playoff race. Neither team is in good shape to tank out for the #1 draft pick (though Detroit might have to think about it if anything interesting happens to the 3-10 teams Tennessee, Cleveland, and San Diego Sunday). It’s going to be like this past Thursday’s Tampa Bay/St. Louis TV matchup. Maybe one team will show up…maybe both will…maybe neither will.
That kind of situation can be great for handicappers and sports bettors though because oddsmakers have to put a number on the game! You have the power to pass. If you have the right read on which team will bring some fire…you can actually score a very easy cover. In fact…part of the secret to winning big over the final few weeks of the season is reading the tea leaves properly in these so-called “meaningless” matchups.
Let’s go to the tea leaves! Here are JIM HURLEY’S key indicators stats for this week’s Monday Night matchup…
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Detroit: 4-9 (#2 schedule according to Sagarin)
New Orleans: 5-8 (#21 schedule according to Sagarin)
Very interesting. Detroit’s played a killer schedule…and might actually be the superior of the two teams! If you imagine both playing league average schedules, Detroit possibly jumps as high as 6-7 while New Orleans might be looking at 4-9. You knew the Lions were losing…but did you know the schedule had been that tough?
Detroit: 5.2 on offense, 5.5 on defense
New Orleans: 5.8 on offense, 6.5 on defense
Important to make those schedule tweaks here. Detroit has the better differential against the tougher schedule. The Lions might be near break-even against a league average slate…while the Saints would fall even further than the poor -0.7 already seeing. Are the Lions going to be a great sleeper pick this week?
New Orleans: -2
Maybe not! Detroit’s been taking the worst of it in this very important stat. The offense is too sloppy, so they don’t get what they should out of their yardage. New Orleans is a disappointment, because Drew Brees has to force passes when things aren’t going well. Detroit’s been a disaster. This virtually cancels out Detroit’s YPP edge.
Detroit: 4-9 ATS
New Orleans: 6-6-1 ATS
Detroit’s been one of the most overrated teams in the NFL this year…because those turnovers keep trumping what the quants are seeing in the raw yardage stats. Though, who knows? Maybe if Detroit wasn’t playing such a tough schedule, they’d have a chance to execute better. It’s not like New Orleans is a team that forces turnovers on command. Even if the defense has improved since the firing of Rob Ryan a few weeks ago.
Current Line: New Orleans by 3, total of 51
Oddsmakers are basically tossing up a number and hoping for the best. Home field advantage is worth three points in the NFL. That line says the teams are even, and the Saints are getting credit for hosting. Are they even? Or more importantly, will the EFFORT be even in a lame duck game?
*The Saints have been trying lately, coming off a big divisional win in Tampa Bay and a hard luck heartbreaker vs. powerful Carolina.
*Detroit was a huge disappointment last week in St. Louis (sharps had driven the line from +1 to -3!), and suffered that gut punch from Green Bay the week before.
If think the Saints are going to bring more intensity, then this line might be a STEAL. If you think Detroit can avoid turnovers against the softer defense…then the value swings emphatically the other way to the team that’s compiled better stats against the softer schedule.
JIM HURLEY knows Monday is the most important sports betting day of the week in Las Vegas. He’ll do what it takes to find you the winner in Lions/Saints plus Western Kentucky/South Florida in the Miami Beach Bowl. You can purchase the final word for Monday football (and basketball) right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Monday. Be sure to ask about our complete college bowl and NFL playoff package when you call.
More TV football previews coming soon in the NOTEBOOK…
Midweek: NFL TV Preview…San Diego at Oakland
Bowl Preview: UCLA vs. Nebraska in the Foster Farms Bowl
Next Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Next Monday: NFL TV Preview…Cincinnati at Denver
Coming Soon: College Football previews for Baylor-North Carolina, Oklahoma-Clemson, and Alabama-Michigan State!
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