Koerner: Why the Rams-Saints Spread and Over/Under Both Offer Betting Value

Koerner: Why the Rams-Saints Spread and Over/Under Both Offer Betting Value article feature image

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sean Payton

  • Sean Koerner runs through each of Sunday's conference championship games from a betting perspective: Rams-Saints and Patriots-Chiefs.
  • How do the spread and over/under compare to our proprietary power ratings? Sean digs into his numbers to find betting value.

Each week, I release an updated version of The Action Network’s NFL Power Rankings. These ratings mirror those used by Vegas oddsmakers and project NFL point spreads each week.

Below I’ve listed each matchup with the actual consensus spread (via The Action Network App) and compared them to our numbers and added a few thoughts on each matchup.

The goal? To find where the market is spot-on and where we can find some betting value.

All odds as of Friday evening.

Betting odds: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints

  • Actual spread: Saints -3 (-120)
  • The Action Network spread: Saints -4.5

After the Saints’ 51-14 blowout of the Bengals in Week 10, they officially jumped to No. 1 in our Power Ratings and haven’t looked back.

We need to overlook the Saints’ Week 17 loss against the Panthers, as they rested Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara knowing they had the No. 1 seed locked up.

Meanwhile, the Rams hit a rough patch in Weeks 14 and 15 when they suffered back-to-back losses but appear to be getting back on track after a convincing win against the Cowboys in the Divisional Round.

The market has made the Rams only 3- or 3.5-point underdogs depending on the book.

But that number is a bit odd.

Our Power Ratings make the Saints -1.5 on a neutral field — and -4.5 at home

The Superdome is going to be electric, and it’s worth wondering how much it will impact Jared Goff, who relies on getting to the line of scrimmage quickly, Sean McVay communicating with him before they shut off his headset, and changing the play if needed based on the defense.

Given the Saints’ home-field advantage and slight advantage on the field, I really think New Orleans should be closer to -4 or -4.5.

The betting behavior has been fairly down the middle (55% of tickets on the Rams at the time of writing), and we haven’t seen much movement despite dealing with such a key number.

The total has been fixated at 56.5, which means the market has been balanced enough that books haven’t need to adjust one way or another (55% of tickets are on the over).

I had pegged the fair line for the total to be 57. There may be some value on the over here as both efficient offenses will feed off one another, which could make this a shootout from the start.

The Rams are less likely to use their run-heavy approach from last week with Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. They were padding a big lead against the Cowboys, but are unlikely to be in the same situation in the Superdome.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees

So expect Goff to throw more to keep up with the Saints offense, which, in turn, will also need to keep its foot on the gas since no lead is safe against the Rams.

There are more in-game scenarios that lead to these teams playing to the over in order to win.

Betting odds: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

  • Actual spread: Chiefs -3 (-120)
  • The Action Network spread: Chiefs -3.6

The spread market appears to be dead set between the key number of -3 and -3.5. There is no indication of any sharp movement, either.

This number is spot-on, according to my power ratings, so betting this game should be reserved for entertainment purposes only.

The over/under market, meanwhile, has been impacted by the weather forecast all week which has offered a ton of value for bettors to try to beat the closing number.

My total for this game is 57.5, and after it opened at 59 or 59.5 at some shops, it was a given that the number would get bet down.

That’s exactly what happened, as the total fell to 57. And once word of an “arctic blast” filtered out early in the week, the dropped all the way to 54.5.

Now that the forecast is shaping up to be clear skies but freezing temps, it has crept back up to a consensus number of 56, with 55% of the bets on the under.

Bettors are likely still overreacting to fears about the weather, and I’m predicting this line ends up closer to 57 by kickoff once that fear dissipates.

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