Musical chairs may not use jazz.
The Saints were the odd team in the race for the first two seeds in the NFC. But the betting markets still preferred the fleur-de-lis over the second-placed packers and just behind the best-occupied 49ers on the championship futures boards.
Drew Brees and Company will visit Lambeau Field next week if they win against Minnesota on Sunday. The first step in a potential holy march to a title starts an NFC double header …
New Orleans (-8) vs. Minnesota (1:05 p.m., Fox)
- Minnesota: 16th attack, 14th defense, 25th schedule, plus-11 sales margin
- New Orleans: 9th offensive, 11th defensive, 13th schedule, plus-15 sales margin
These aren't exactly juggernaut numbers for New Orleans. Though the offensive might have been higher if Brees hadn't missed several injured games.
As we discussed on Saturday with the Patriots, a large difference in sales is a weapon against non-competitors rather than high-profile opponents who know how to do something. Minnesota also had a strong differential and admitted it came against a softer schedule.
Overall, our metrics show why New Orleans is likely to close near a touchdown favorite without suggesting a possible outage. And frankly, they don't suggest street sweepers from the Packers and Niners either.
Minnesota would be near an auto bet over a touchdown if it hadn't crashed and burned in a home loss to Green Bay on Monday night. This version of the Vikings has little chance here. It is up to Kirk Cousins to fix the ship.
Exclude wildcard weekend …
Seattle (-1¹ / ₂) in Philadelphia (4:40 p.m., NBC)
- Seattle: Eighth attack, 26th defense, toughest schedule, plus 12 sales margin
- Philadelphia: 14th attack, 10th defense, simplest schedule, minus 3 sales margin
Seattle may have peaked too early and will be injured by a number of injuries in the off-season. The Seahawks still had the right to compete against the worst team in the playoffs.
Check out the leaderboards with the schedules. The best and the worst in the NFL. Imagine the statistics (and perceptions) of Seattle if it had played the simplest schedule … and how bad the Eagles would be if they played the toughest. Sloppy Philadelphia posted a negative sales differential compared to light slate.
At full strength, Seattle would have opened higher than a field goal. Sharps showed no interest in driving the line so high through the week. If the line stays in the range of + 1¹ / ₂ to + 2¹ / ₂ on Sunday morning, the professional bettors use the Eagles in six-point teasers that would cross both key numbers of three and seven (probably paired with the saints who from the other direction). If the public pushes the Seahawks down to -3, keen dog lovers will hit Philly hard.
The Eagles pause before a watered down version of the Seahawks. They'll be much bigger outsiders next week when they experience this little surprise.