Bet of the Day – New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers, Sept. 20, 2010

New Orleans Saints (-6) at San Francisco 49ers (+6), Over/Under 43.5

Yesterday’s bet, NY Giants at Indianapolis Colts, was an easy winner.  We covered on both Saturday and Sunday games, hopefully we can finish up with a Monday night win.  The Saints are coming off a decent win over the Vikings.  The 49ers are coming of an embarrassing loss in Seattle.  The 49ers will play better tonight, but will it be enough?

The Saints come into this game with plenty of rest and time to prepare after their season opener.  The Saints are led by quarterback Drew Brees.  Brees threw for 237 yards in the opener with 1 TD and 0 INTs for a 101.3 QB rating.  Brees has an arsenal of weapons to choose from.  Brees and the Saints passing offense are more talented than the 49ers; they will be looking to take an early lead and put away San Francisco.  The Saints secondary is still without veteran Darren Sharper and will face a big challenge in Vernon Davis.

Following the public dispute with TE Vernon Davis and WR Michael Crabtree and the ugly week 1 loss, the 49ers will have something to prove tonight.  They were sloppy and had some major communication problems in week 1.  Expect the 49ers to play cleaner tonight.  QB Alex Smith threw for 225 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs for a 52.2 QB rating.  Smith has weapons in RB Gore, Crabtree, and Davis.  The 49ers will look to establish the run early on offense and keep the  Saints high-powered offense off the field.  Coach Mike Singletary predicted they will shut down Brees.  Expect pressure from the 49er front-7.  Do they have the horses to compete with the Saints?

We don’t have much in the way of stats from last week to help us.  The 49ers game was a bit of a fluke and the data isn’t indicative of the team’s performance moving forward.  Below is a table with the 2009 yards per play (YPP) and yards per point (YPPT) for both teams.

Team Efficiency           Saints 49ers Advantage
YPP – Offense                6.3       5.2        Saints
YPPT – Offense             12.1    14.1        Saints
YPP – Defense                5.8      5.2        49ers
YPPT – Defense            17.5     18.6       49ers

The Saints are clearly a more productive and efficient offensive team.  On defense, the 49ers allowed fewer yards per play and more yards per point (more efficient).  In 2009, the Saints averaged 31.8 points scored and 21.3 points allowed in the regular season.  The 49ers scored 20.6 and allowed 17.5 per game.  The 49ers were definitely a better home team in 2009. On defense they had 13 INTs and 13 fumble recoveries at home and only 5 INTs and 2 fumble recoveries on the road.  They averaged 124.4 yards per game rushing at home versus 75.6 yards per game on the road.

The Sagarin Ratings are New Orleans 25.55 over San Francisco 12.52.  With the 3.16 home advantage, this indicates New Orleans is a 9.87 point favorite.  I think this is too much.  San Francisco’s terrible week 1 performance is skewing these ratings.

My football model simulated the game San Francisco 26.62 over New Orleans 26.22 for 52.84 total points.  Against a 6-points spread, this indicates the betting value is with the 49ers +6.  On paper, the Saints are clearly the better offensive team.  The 49ers can convert points efficiently and their defense is very effective.  The model has a 3-point standard deviation.  The variance is largely driven by the New Orleans pass defense and pass offense.  If the Saints pass defense plays to their average, this will be a close game.  They have to get pressure on Alex Smith and contain Vernon Davis to win.

I think this is a close game.  I am taking the 49ers plus the points.  Here is why.  The San Francisco 49ers flopped in week 1 and have something to prove against the reigning super bowl champions.  The 49ers are a better home team; they force turnovers and establish the run.  The Saints will move the ball, but they have a vulnerable secondary.  The 49ers are going to keep the ball out of the Saints’ hands (The Vikings proved you can slow the game down against the Saints).  Bet on the San Francisco 49ers +6.  Follow me on twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

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