New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks Betting Preview

History will be made when the Seattle Seahawks host the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card Round on Saturday. Not only did Seattle become the first team in league history to win its division with a losing record this season, but they will also be the largest home underdog in NFL Playoff history. The defending Super Bowl champion Saints have opened as mammoth 10.5-point favorites on the betting line with a total of 45. This game will kick off the Wild Card Weekend at 4:30 on NBC. Home underdogs in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs are nothing new. In fact, at least one road team has been favored in this round each of the last three seasons. However, none of those teams were favored by more than three points. Of the four, three won the game straight up and went 2-1-1 ATS. The exception was last year with Green Bay (-2) losing at Arizona in overtime 51-45. This certainly shapes up as one of the biggest mismatches in recent playoff history. Seattle is the first 7-9 team to ever make the playoffs. Previously only two 8-8 teams had qualified - the 1985 Browns and the 2008 Chargers. Those '08 Chargers did win their first playoff game, defeating Indianapolis 23-17, but were actually favored in the game. The '85 Browns qualified under a different playoff format and did not have to play in the Wild Card Round,but lost their first playoff game. The Seahawks won the NFC West on the season's final game by virtue of a 16-6 home win over the division rival Rams. Home field advantage and a lack of experience from a young St. Louis team proved to be the deciding factors. A defense that had allowed 34 or more points in four of its previous five games, played perhaps its best game of the year in holding the Rams to just 63 second half yards and not letting them cross midfield until mid-way through the fourth quarter. HC Pete Carroll becomes the 27th coach in league history to lead multiple teams to the postseason and this is the third straight season we've seen a 1st year HC take his team to the playoffs. Seattle finished the year with a 5-3 record at Qwest Field. Still there are plenty of reasons not to like Seattle. Their nine losses this season came by an average of 21 PPG. Prior to beating the Rams, they had lost seven of nine games - SU and ATS. Their point differential of -97 was fifth worst in all of football. Only Buffalo, Arizona, Denver and Carolina were worse and all four of those teams will be picking in the top five of April's Draft. They are using backup QB Whitehurst, who has yet to throw for more than 200 yards in any of his three starts this season. The defense was very bad all season, ranking 27th in the league allowing 368.6 YPG. The pointspread has yet to come into play in a single Seahawks game this season. They are 0-9 ATS in their nine losses and 7-0 ATS in their seven wins. They are just 6-16 ATS as an underdog going back to last year. An even worse trend is that Seattle is 0-10 ATS off its previous ten home victories. They already lost to New Orleans once this season, on the road, 34-19 as 11-point underdogs. The offense managed only 58 yards rushing in the loss.

So is there any hope for Seattle to win, or at least cover, this game? Perhaps. New Orleans has never won a road playoff game in franchise history. During last year's Super Bowl run, the Saints had the benefit of home field advantage. Also, double-digit playoff favorites have not fared well in recent playoff history, going just 2-5 against the spread with an incredible three outright losses. It should be pointed out that five of those double-digit favorites occurred in the 2007 season (Patriots three times). New Orleans is not as good as they were last year. The offense scored 126 less points than the 2009 team. In that regular season win over Seattle, they allowed 424 yards of total offense to the Seahawks, but 366 of that was through the air with Matt Hasselbeck. Over the last two seasons, the Saints have lost just three road games and one of those came to Carolina in LY's meaningless season finale. However, they were just 3-5 ATS away from the Superdome this season. Still, they did hand division rival Atlanta its only home loss of the season. RB Chris Ivory could be the key here. He ran for 99 yards in the earlier meeting and Seattle has one of the league's worst run defenses. In its last two road games, the Saints had just 99 rushing yards total. Totals players should take note that Seattle was a big winner for Over bettors this season, going 11-4-1 O/U. Before last week's game vs. the Rams, the team had gone Over in its previous eight games.