Christmas NFL Betting Preview: Will Drew Brees Lead the Saints to Victory?
In back-to-back days, a 17-point favorite (the largest favorite in the league in 25 years to lose a game outright) and a 14.5-point favorite lost football games straight up. That's 2020, y'all.
But in a Christmas Day present, we are lucky to have some football! According to our schedule-adjusted metrics, we are going to get a treat from Santa in two of the league's top-half teams, as the fourth-ranked New Orleans Saints will try to play the role of the dutiful host against the Minnesota Vikings, who are still clinging to a glimmer of playoff hope.
Let's dive into what our model thinks could be some intriguing betting angles for this contest.
The Home Saints Should Take Care of Business
There's been a lot going on in 2020, and it's pretty easy to forget that these same two teams met in New Orleans on Wild Card weekend last year -- which resulted in the Vikings claiming a 26-20 road victory in overtime.
And this certainly has been no ordinary year for these two teams. Quarterback Drew Brees returned last week but still couldn't get things figured out, and quite frankly, he played pretty poorly with a 15-for-34 effort and a slightly below-average Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back mark of 0.12. Perhaps Brees can get things going against a friendly Minnesota D that's currently without All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks. It's also important to note that the Chicago Bears averaged almost five yards per carry against Minnesota, as well.
If the Saints want to secure the division title, which was previously a foregone conclusion prior to these last two games, they've got to take care of business in this Christmas contest. Per FanDuel Sportsbook, the Saints are 7.0-point favorites, and our algorithm predicts this one to be right around that spread.
What will be interesting is to see if the Saints can overcome their injuries on offense. Their star (yet mercurial) wide receiver Michael Thomas has been placed on the injured list, Deonte Harris is banged up, and Tre'Quan Smith hurt an ankle last week. Don't forget that Brees is still attempting to recover from a massive injury he suffered weeks ago to his ribs and lung, too.
This one likely comes down to home digs and the two defenses, which both favor the Saints. Per our oddsFire tool, the betting public is siding with the home squad -- 77% of bets and 67% of cash have come in on the Saints. Look for them to cover as touchdown favorites.
Bets to Consider
Not only is the public favoring the Saints, but they expect points to be scored, which is no surprise. Shootouts historically happen in the Superdome, but our algorithm doesn't necessarily agree, projecting the under (51.5 points) 69.27% of the time.
As far as props, running back Alvin Kamara is a great place to start, especially with all of those injuries that we mentioned. Our model has him rushing for about 73 yards and combined for around 54 yards receiving, a total he has often bested this season. Over at the FanDuel Sportsbook, Kamara's rushing prop sits at 60.5, with even -110 odds on both sides and massive potential to smash the over.
Historical Betting Trends
-- These teams are somewhat similar from an against-the-spread (ATS) perspective in 2020. The road Vikings are 6-8, but the home Saints are 7-6-1.
-- Vikings backers have been rudely disappointed as of late. They haven't covered in five straight games.
-- Odds are that the Saints could figure things out. They are 19-6 ATS after back-to-back losses.
-- From a spread perspective, one item that could work to the favor of the Vikes is that the road team is 6-1 in their last seven in New Orleans.