METAIRIE, La. - The New Orleans Saints find themselves in an unusual position in their game at Seattle on Monday night: They’re favored.
The Saints’ 5-point spread marks just the second time they’ve been favored in 11 trips to the Emerald City.
The other time was the 2010 NFC Wild Card playoffs, when the Saints were 11-point favorites against the 7-9 Seahawks and were upset 41-36 in the infamous “Beast Mode” game.
Historically, the Saints have struggled in their infrequent trips to the Pacific Northwest. They’re won just four of 10 games all-time in Seattle, which is widely recognized as one of the most hostile road environments in the league.
And Lumen Field figures to be particularly hostile for the prime-time kickoff next week. The Seahawks are a desperate team, having lost two straight games and four of their past five. They're not used to losing in Seattle, and the Seahawks can’t afford to fall too much farther behind the Cardinals (6-0) and Rams (5-1) in the NFC West division race.
Normally, I’d be all over the home underdog in a game like this. But this isn’t one of those times. This isn’t your typical Seahawks team, and the mystique of Lumen Field has long since worn off.
Seattle is 0-2 at home this season and has lost three straight games at Lumen Field since last season.
What’s more, the Seahawks will be playing just their second game in the past decade without star quarterback Russell Wilson. Geno Smith, Wilson’s replacement, played admirably in a 23-20 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday night. But backup quarterbacks tend to have success in their first starts under center. It’s Game 2, after opposing teams have tape on them, that they struggle.
Seattle will find the Saints defense decidedly stingier than the Steelers unit they faced last week. Smith is going to find himself in a lot more third-and-longs on Monday night. And that’s not a good thing for him or the Seahawks.
And finally, this Seattle defense isn’t going to remind anyone of the Legion of Boom. The Seahawks rank last in the league in total defense and are allowing 140 yards rushing a game. Alvin Kamara should have a field day running behind the Saints’ physical offensive line against this group.
The Saints are the better, more talented team on both sides of the ball, which should mitigate whatever home-field advantage Seattle might have.
One of the early-season trends in the NFL has been the surprising success of road teams. So far, road teams are 50-44 straight up and 54-37-3 against the spread this season.
The Saints have been a part of that success. They are 3-1 away from the Superdome this season. In fact, the Saints have won a ridiculous 23 of 28 road games since 2018.
If there’s any team in the league that can go into Lumen Field and be unfazed by the environment, it’s the Saints. I like them to win by at least a touchdown.
There was a time when playing the Seahawks on the road in a prime-time game was one of the most difficult assignments in football. That time has passed.
Two more spot plays that I like this week:
Ole Miss (-9) vs. LSU: We’re going to learn a lot about the direction of this LSU team for the rest of the season from this game. Lane Kiffin is good friends with Ed Orgeron, but he will not let up off the accelerator if things get out of hand in the second half.
Giants (+3) vs. Panthers: In a battle of two teams desperate for a win, go with the home team. Carolina continues its downward slide.