Why The Saints Are Tough At Home

WHY THE N’ORLEANS SAINTS ARE SO DARN TOUGH TO BEAT IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD

There are home-field advantages in the National Football League ... and then there are really home field-advantages.

Say hello to the New Orleans Saints!

The NFC South leaders head into Sunday’s Week 10 tilt against the somewhat fragile San Francisco 49ers (4-4) having won all three of their home tilts this year inside the Louisiana Superdome and note the Saints (4-4) have covered two of the three home wins.

This year’s home sked looks like this so far for the Saints:

In Week 3 they downed 10-point underdog Minnesota 20-9;
In Week 5 the Saints failed to cover the 11 ½-point price in a 37-31 overtime win against Tampa Bay;
And in a Week 8 Sunday Night Football game, New Orleans blasted 2-point road underdog Green Bay 44-23.

Date back to the 2008 season - the year before the Saints won their first-and-only Super Bowl - and do the math and you’ll see the following:
The New Orleans Saints at home are a collective 42-11 SU (straight-up) for a sizzling .793 winning percentage and now check ‘em out ATS (against the spread) where the Saints are 36-16-1 (a .693 winning rate).

You’ll note that the Saints have gone 6-1, 9-0 and 7-1 against the odds in 2008, 2011 and 2013, respectively, in all home games (note they played only seven home games in ’08 while playing a “home game” in London) and only once during this six-plus year stretch did New Orleans fail to produce at least a .500 spread mark at home (see 3-4-1 ATS back in 2010).

Here’s some of the reasons we offer up as to why the Saints are so super in their own backyard:

First off, the climate-controlled Superdome is perfect for this quick-hitter, fast-paced offense run by QB Drew Brees and orchestrated by brilliant play-calling head coach Sean Payton.

The Saints get in and out of their huddles quickly, keep the pressure on opposing defenses and allow Brees to do his thing which rarely includes getting sacked;

Next is the general comfort level of the dome - the Saints know their rowdy fans will not get too loud when Brees is at the line of scrimmage calling signals.

Just ask Denver QB Peyton Manning how that sometimes works before your own home crowd!

Finally, it really just comes down to personnel as the Saints know they have four or five potential pass-catch targets going out on every play and Brees is adept at flinging the occasional long ball or lobbing it out to one of his athletic running backs - plus it truly helps that the Saints’ defense is usually playing from ahead at home and so the pass rush is better and forcing more turnovers against their foes is heightened as well.

The 49ers trek into the Superdome this week and do you think it’s been noticed how good the Saints are at home?

The Las Vegas pointspread opened at New Orleans favored by 3.5 points and it’s slowly climbed up to Saints minus five points.

Just to let y’all know, the Saints are 23-8-1 ATS (a .742 winning rate) as single-digit home betting favorites since the start of their Super Bowl-winning season back in 2009 ... cha-ching!

THE POST-RAVENS VS. STEELERS RESULTS

It’s tough to say that any NFL rivalry is rougher/tougher than the one between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The AFC North combatants just played a brutally physical game this past Sunday night with the Steelers snagging the 43-23 win as 2.5-point home betting favorites but we want to know what happens in the game after Ravens-Steelers and so we rolled up our sleeves and did a little research. Here goes.

Let’s take it back to 2007 when Mike Tomlin came aboard as head coach of the Steelers; Baltimore hired head coach John Harbaugh the following year.

Pittsburgh’s post-Ravens games since 2007 don’t tell much of a tale as the Steelers are a collective 8-8 versus the vig in their game-after-Baltimore and note that includes what Tomlin’s teams did in post-season tilts after playing the Ravens in a pair of playoff games.

In 2008, Pittsburgh followed up its AFC Championship Game win/cover against Baltimore with that thrilling 27-23 non-cover win against 7-point underdog Arizona in Super Bowl 43 in Tampa and two years later the Steelers again beat Baltimore in the playoffs (an AFC Divisional Playoff Game) and then won/covered against the 4-point underdog New York Jets in the 2010 AFC Championship Game.

If you look at more recent results you’ll see the Steelers followed up their 26-6 loss in Baltimore in Week 2 play this season with a 37-19 triumph at 3-point fav Carolina but note last year Pittsburgh failed to cover both of its post-Ravens games.

Now, let’s look at what - if any - hangover effect Baltimore has had in its post-Pittsburgh games since ’07 (the final year of the Brian Billick Era).
Ahhh, now we have something!

The Ravens are a composite 5-9 against the odds in their game played immediately after dueling with the Steelers (that’s a lowly .357 winning rate) and that includes this year when Baltimore followed up that aforementioned 20-point win/cover against the Steelers with a 23-21 triumph as 1-point road favorites in Cleveland.

It’s worth noting that Baltimore is just 2-5 spreadwise in its game-after-Pittsburgh when coming off a loss to the Steelers; they 3-4 spreadwise in their post-Pittsburgh game when coming off a win in that AFC North rivalry game. So, let’s look ahead here at NFL Week 10:

Pittsburgh’s laying road points (5 or 5.5 depending on your locale) right now at the beleaguered New York Jets this Sunday while Baltimore is a 9.5-to-10-point betting favorite this weekend at home versus Tennessee and keep in mind that 2-5 spread log for Baltimore when coming off a loss to the Steel guys.

Lots of fantastic matchups on this early November card including the Thursday Night showdown between Cleveland at Cincinnati in NFL Week 10 play and tonight’s college clash between Clemson at Wake Forest but first this key message: My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get all the NCAA Football, NFL Week 10 and NBA and upcoming NCAA Hoops winners when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network. Check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Don’t miss out!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S FIRST-YEAR COACHES: (WHO HAVE BEEN THE BEST “INVESTMENTS”?)

Folks, when we first entered this here-and-now 2014 College Football season there were 20 first-year head coaches looking to make their marks at new schools. Now, two-plus months into this current campaign, it’s time to examine what first-year head coaches have been “good investments”:

BLAKE ANDERSON, Arkansas State - For a school that seemingly has a new head football coach each/every autumn (yes, Anderson is the fifth head coach in five years here) the Red Wolves don’t skip a beat.

This Sun Belt Conference club is a hearty 5-2-1 ATS under Anderson and that includes key pointspread wins against Tennessee and Utah State.

What’s Ahead - Anderson and Co. host South Alabama this weekend and there’s three home games in Arkansas State’s final four tilts this year and note the Wolves are 3-0 ATS as hosts in 2014.

STEVE SARKISIAN, USC - It may not feel like it to Southern Cal faithful who have suffered through SU losses to Boston College, Arizona State and Utah but the truth is that the Trojans are 6-3 against the numbers under their first-year head coach. The former Washington boss-man has directed the Troy Boys to covers against Fresno State, Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona, Colorado and Washington State and want to know something?

USC has covered the pointspread in each of the team’s six SU wins and the Trojans have failed to cover the price tag in all three of their SU losses ... hmm.

What’s Ahead - USC draws a bye this weekend and then Sarkisian and Company host Cal, play at UCLA and host Notre Dame to conclude regular-season play. Hey, if someone told you USC could be something like 8-4 ATS in Year One of the Sarkisian Era you’d take it especially coming off 3-10 and 7-7 spread seasons for the Trojans.

WILLIE FRITZ, Georgia Southern - Nobody said it would be all the high-profile first-year head coaches “cashing” all the time and here’s a prime example as the Panthers are a dynamic 8-1 against the odds under rookie boss Fritz who’s helped guide this Sun Belt Conference club to neat underdog covers against both N.C. State and Georgia Tech not to mention wins by 23, 38 and 32 points the past three weeks while laying heavy-duty points to the likes of Idaho, Georgia State and Troy.

Georgia Southern is an electric 6-1 vig-wise as betting favorites this year and so the real bottom line is this: There’s only three more games on the regular-season docket to cash including this Saturday’s game at Texas State and - sorry Georgia Southern fans - but your man Fritz probably will be hitting the road for greener pastures at year’s end.

What’s Ahead - Following Texas State it’s a road game at Navy and a home finale versus UL-Monroe.

MARK WHIPPLE, UMass - Maybe in-the-know football folks believe that Massachusetts is a “graveyard” for football coaches and the fact remains this year’s Minutemen enter the Nov. 12th home game against Ball State with a shabby 2-7 SU mark but how about the fact UMass is 7-2 against the odds under first-year coach Whipple?

True, the Minutemen have snuck under three different double-digit dog prices, but so what! The fact is Whipple has kept UMass in the hunt with a mere 3-point loss against 18-point fav Colorado and a 7-point setback at 18-point favorite Toledo.

What’s Ahead - UMass follows up that home game against Ball State with a trip to Akron and then a home finale versus Buffalo.

Hey, in case you were wondering about some of the higher-profile first-year head coaches here’s the lowdown while heading into this weekend’s games:

Penn State’s James Franklin is 4-3-1 spreadwise but comes off that bitter 20-19 “no handshakes” loss to Maryland;
Texas’ Charlie Strong is somehow 5-4 vig-wise despite all the injuries and all the suspensions that have hit the Longhorns’ program;
And Washington’s Chris Petersen is a disappointing 4-5 against the numbers while heading into Saturday’s game against UCLA.

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