Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Orleans at San Francisco 2012 Playoff Preview - 49ers in the upset, but deeper analysis may say otherwise

New Orleans plays at San Francisco on 1/14 in a divisional playoff game.

New Orleans is ranked #2 by the computer with a 14-3 record and a rating of 88.953 against a schedule strength of 80.182. Their performance chart can be found below and shows they were consistent and improving, but for a few games, their worst game being at St Louis and best game being against the Giants. They are 13-4 against the spread this year and the computer is 5-12 picking their games against the spread and 13-4 picking winners in their games.



San Francisco is ranked #4 by the computer with a 13-3 record and a rating of 87.193 against a schedule strength of 80.269. Their performance chart can be found below and shows they were more consistent but still had a few down games, their worst game being against Dallas and best game being against Pittsburgh. They are 12-3-1 against the spread this year and the computer is 9-6-1 picking their games against the spread and 12-4 picking winners in their games.



The teams are separated by 2 degrees through ? as follows:


2 New_Orleans-->Detroit-->San_Francisco
2 New_Orleans-->NY_Giants-->San_Francisco
2 New_Orleans-->St_Louis-->San_Francisco
2 New_Orleans-->St_Louis-->San_Francisco
2 New_Orleans-->Tampa_Bay-->San_Francisco
2 New_Orleans-->Tampa_Bay-->San_Francisco


The spread is New Orleans by 4 and the computer disagrees picking the 49ers by 1.2. Here is the pick using the format from the newsletter:

*xSan Francisco +4.0 over . New Orleans 1.2 5.2 0.540 0.663

Having said that, as I explained in the Denver vs Pittsburgh analysis, one could have predicted a Denver upset by digger deeper.  What can be said about this game?

At their best, against the Giants, New Orleans rated 99.2 points.  The 49ers best against Pittsburgh was 97.5, so a slight advantage to the Saints.

At their worst, against St. Louis, New Orleans rated 66.2 points.  The 49ers worst against Dallas was 74.4, a big advantage to the 49ers.

But how are they playing now?  Over their last 7 weeks since their bye, the Saints are averaging a 95.5 rating and this pulled them up from #9 their bye week to a very close #2.  Their low during that period on the road at Tennessee was 89.4.

The 49ers have been fairly consistent although they dipped slightly at the end of the year with the 2 losses, although those losses weren't as bad as the Dallas loss early in the season.  Their average over their last 7 is just 86.9 and their best result that helps pull the average up that high was a 97.5 over Pittsburgh with an injured QB.  But if we given them the benefit of the doubt and go back 9 games the average is only pulled up to 87.2.  So big advantage to the Saints.

What about home vs road?  New Orleans road average is 83.8, their 3 losses all being on the road.  And only 2 of their games in this 7 game streak have been on the road.  In their last 3 road games, their average is 90.9.

At home, the 49ers average 88.8, over their last 4 it is 91.9, the early season Dallas game being the one pulling the overall average down.  This seems to discount some of the Saints late season surge as being due to some home cooking and making the game seem pretty close again.

So, the computer does think the Saints are the better team rating them higher based on the entire season, but likes the 49ers at home a bit.  Even if you factor in the Saints strong finish, one can see how they can win but on the road the 4 points may be enticing for a fan of the 49ers.

Enjoy!


Newsletter pick format:

The x denotes the home team. The * denotes the pick to win the game. The . is just a place holder. The number before "over" is the best line I've found typically from Maddux Sports. The team on the left is the pick against the spread. The first column after the second team is what the computer predicts the winning team will win by. The next column is the difference between the Vegas line and that prediction. The next column is the confidence of my pick to win. The last column is the confidence of the pick against the spread.