NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) 23 NY Giants 19
Two of the best teams in the NFL square off in this one and an argument can be made for both sides. New Orleans has added a good defense, allowing just 4.7 yards per play, to go along with one of the NFL's most explosive offensive units (6.4 yppl this season against teams that would allow 5.2 yppl to an average attack), but New York is also good on both sides of the ball. Eli Manning is having his best season yet thanks to a slew of talented young receivers to throw to.
Manning has averaged 8.8 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.9 yppp to an average quarterback) and his compensated numbers as just as good as those of Drew Brees, who has averaged 7.5 yppp against teams that would allow 5.7 ypp to an average QB. The Giants' rushing attack is starting to impress after struggling the first two games and the Giants have been 0.6 yppl better than average so far offensively (6.3 yppl against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average team. The Saints are 0.5 yppl better than average defensively and have picked off 10 passes in 4 games, so that match-up is pretty even.
New Orleans has added a very good rushing attack (5.2 ypr) to the passing of Brees this season and the Saints have been 1.2 yppl better than average through 4 games while New York's defense has been the best in the league against the pass (3.7 yppp allowed to quarterbacks that would average 5.7 yppp against an average defense) and 0.8 yppl better than average overall. New York is actually better than that, as the 251 rushing yards at 8.7 ypr they allowed Dallas was a fluke and has made the Giants' run defense (4.9 ypr allowed) appear worse than it actually is.
The Giants have allowed just 3.5 ypr in their other 4 games (to teams that would combine to average only 3.5 ypr against an average team) and I actually rate their run defense at just 0.2 ypr worse than average rather than the 0.8 ypr worse than average that the unadjusted compensated would yield. With that adjustment I rate New York's defense at 1.1 yppl better than average, so the Saints have a 0.1 yppl edge when they have the ball - which is the same edge that the Giants have.
With these teams stacking up evenly from the line of scrimmage, it will probably be turnovers that determine the winner. The Saints aren't going to continue to intercept 2.5 passes per game and Manning has thrown just 2 picks in 5 games this season. Brees has done a good job of limiting his interceptions this season too (just 2) and my math model projects only a 0.1 turnover difference in favor of the Saints in this game.
Overall, the math favors the Saints by just 1 point and my ratings favor the Saints by 3 points, but I'll lean with New Orleans anyway on the basis of a very good 103-37-4 ATS statistical match-up indicator and the same 19-0 ATS early season unbeaten team angle that won the last two weeks with Denver.
The Giants, meanwhile, apply to a negative 9-44-5 ATS situation. While those situations are all very strong, it should also be noted that the Giants are 22-4 ATS in their last 26 games away from home (3-0 ATS this season), including 20-2 ATS when not favored by 7 points or more and 11-0 ATS against teams with a win percentage of .625 or higher.
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