The New Orleans Saints have never won a playoff game on the road in their entire history. They have also struggled on the road during this 2013 NFL season. They get a chance to remove a big monkey from their backs this Saturday night, as they face the newly-crowned NFC East Division champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. Will New Orleans’ experience or Philadelphia’s enthusiasm and innovation win the day and surprise on the betting lines?
NFC Wild Card Game – Saturday, January 4th
New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles
NFL Football Odds: Eagles -2.5
Why The Saints Can Cover The Spread:
They are a better team. This is something reflected in the two teams’ records – New Orleans is 11-5 while Philadelphia is 10-6. This is also shown by the fact that New Orleans played in a much tougher division. The NFC East was one of the worst divisions in football this season, producing only one team with a winning record (the same was the case for the NFC North, the AFC North, the AFC South, and AFC East). New Orleans, on the other hand, played the Carolina Panthers twice in the competitive NFC South. The Saints also played (and lost to) the Seattle Seahawks. They defeated the San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles did not play either Seattle or San Francisco this season, so New Orleans has clearly accomplished a lot more over the course of the 16-game regular season.
There are other reasons to take New Orleans as well. The Saints have a better and more experienced quarterback – Drew Brees compared to Nick Foles of the Eagles. They have been through the playoff grind in past seasons, and they are motivated to do something in the playoffs after the BountyGate scandal basically ruined their 2012 season. The Eagles will be completely new to the playoff spotlight and all the pressures it brings. Philadelphia barely beat Dallas this past Sunday despite the fact that the Cowboys were without Tony Romo. The Eagles’ offense bogged down in the second half, and the team probably would not have won if Romo had been reasonably healthy.
Why The Eagles Can Cover The Spread:
They are playing this game at home against a team that is terrible in the playoffs on the road. New Orleans has never won a road playoff game, even under very favorable circumstances. New Orleans was definitely supposed to win a road playoff game in the 2010 season against the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, but the Saints were cleanly outplayed in that game. Philadelphia is a betting favorite because the Saints simply do not win on the road in the month of January. Drew Brees, as good as he is and has been, has not managed to make huge plays in road playoff games. Unless or until this changes, the Saints should be doubted.
The Saints carry a big NFL betting burden, but the Eagles did not handle the spotlight well in Dallas on Sunday night and were lucky that Tony Romo was unable to play in that game. New Orleans should take charge here, showing the younger Eagles a thing or two about handling playoff pressure.
Pick: Saints +2.5