SAINTS, SEAHAWKS BATTLE MONDAY NIGHT IN POTENTIAL PREVIEW OF NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
The two best records right now in the NFC belong to the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. There’s still a lot of football to be played between now and Championship Weekend in the NFL Playoffs in mid-January. And, we were all reminded this past Saturday in college football how it’s rarely safe to assume certain championship matchups are locked in stone. But, it’s very easy to imagine the Seahawks and Saints running into each other again in about six weeks with a Super Bowl bid on the line.
That’s because the winner of Monday Night’s game will be in great shape for home field advantage through the NFC brackets (particularly Seattle!), while the other has the offense, defense, and coaching it takes to work through a tougher gauntlet if needed.
You follow the NFL…you know how great this game could turn out to be…let’s jump right into the numbers…
Won-Lost Records (strength of schedule)
New Orleans: 9-2 (#24 schedule in USA Today)
Seattle: 10-1 (#21 schedule in USA Today)
Worth remembering that both teams have played softer than average schedules…and that both teams have won some nailbiters while achieving those gaudy records. Most respected Power Ratings would still have them as the top two in the NFC…but it’s conceivable that these are both more like 8-3 caliber teams against league average schedules.
New Orleans: 6.2 on offense, 5.2 on defense
Seattle: 5.9 on offense, 4.6 on defense
Wow…big numbers there. If you’ve been reading our previews through the course of the season, you know that making it to +1.0 in differential is rarefied air. Only championship contenders can make a run at it. Both of these teams have strong offenses and quality defenses…with Seattle’s defense being of such a high caliber that it’s allowed them to post a +1.3 advantage in this stat. If you believe that “defense wins championships,” then you have to like Seattle’s chances to run the table next month with home field advantage. They’re capable of running the table from this point forward, though they won’t need to if they can clinch the #1 seed early.
New Orleans: +4
How are you going to beat Seattle if they don’t make mistakes?! Though they’re capable of losing focus against teams that don’t get their juices flowing, the Seahawks are playing like champions however you slice it. New Orleans needs to force a few more opponent miscues before you can truly think of them as championship caliber. Contender, yes. Likely Lombardi Trophy winners? Not quite there yet.
New Orleans: 6-5 ATS
Seattle: 7-4 ATS
Even though Seattle was the market favorite to win the NFC before the season started, they’ve still been covering pointspreads against high expectations. That’s a tribute to their defense. It’s easier to cover spreads if you’re not allowing any points…and when you’re scoring cheap points off field position set up by your defense. New Orleans has been a money-maker as well, in a season where oddsmakers have struggled to properly price many of the best teams.
The high-scoring Saints invade the equally prolific Seahawks for a Monday Night NFC battle. This promises to be a game that lives up to its hype. The Network comparison programs had to work overtime and even add extra data from sources to nail down this game!
Current Line: Seattle by 4.5, total 47
Home field advantage is worth three points in the NFL. Some would argue that it’s worth 3.5 points or even four up in Seattle in big games with that extremely loud crowd. So, the market is saying Seattle is just a slight bit better than New Orleans. That’s consistent with the numbers above, but may not be consistent with the mindset of these teams entering the game. Seattle KNOWS that they can virtually clinch the #1 seed with a win. New Orleans has to play divisional rival Carolina next week, and then again two weeks after that just to make sure they’re not relegated to a Wildcard berth.
Nobody’s better than JIM HURLEY when it comes to reading the tea leaves in big games like this. He knows the personnel matchups. He knows the stat projections. He knows what the computer simulations are suggesting. And, he knows how the Wise Guys are betting thanks to his connections in Las Vegas and offshore. Thanks to the exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach from his NETWORK of reliable sources, JIM HURLEY WILL PUT YOU ON THE RIGTH SIDE!
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We’ll begin a weeklong look at college football conference championship games in the BCS leagues on Tuesday. Here’s the schedule for the week:
Tuesday: ACC Championship matching Duke vs. Florida State
Wednesday: Pac 12 Championship matching Stanford at Arizona State
Thursday: Houston at Jacksonville in the NFL
Friday: SEC Championship matching Auburn vs. Missouri
Saturday: Big 10 Championship matching Ohio State vs. Michigan State
Fitting that Championship Week in college football begins with a potential NFC Championship preview in the NFL! When championships are on the line, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!
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