The top sportsbooks have released their betting odds for this week’s game between the Saints and 49ers.
After suffering multiple losses in a row, the Saints won last week. They beat the Rams 27-20, moving them to 4-7 on the season.
As for San Francisco, the 49ers won in a more convincing fashion. Their 38-10 victory over Arizona followed two consecutive victories. They are favored heavily to extend their three-game win streak by defeating the Saints on Sunday.
For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.
New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, November 27, 2022 – 04:25 PM EST at Levi’s Stadium
Is the 49ers Defense Reliable?
San Francisco owns the fourth-best scoring defense in the NFL. Currently, the 49ers allow 17.3 points per game.
However, they have suffered a couple of bad performances: they gave up 28 points to Atlanta and 44 points to Kansas City.
While the Falcons and Chiefs games were the only ones in which the 49ers allowed 20 points or more this season, might those bad performances indicate that their defense is unreliable or that their defense possesses flaws that the Saints could take advantage of?
San Francisco's Performance on Previous Games
I think that the Falcons game should be dismissed because San Francisco was plagued by a unique extent of injuries.
Safety Jimmie Ward, defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw, and star pass-rusher Nick Bosa were among those who could not play.
As for the Chiefs game, Kansas City is an outlier.
The Chiefs have the number one-ranked scoring offense in the NFL, featuring a pass attack that any defense struggles to handle.
So, the 49ers do have a regularly stout defense, one that repeatedly allows fewer than 20 points per game, which makes it easier for the 49ers offense to score more than enough points for its team to cover the spread.
Top Rushing Defense
On defense, San Francisco's strengths include stopping the run. In fact, the 49ers boast the NFL's top-ranked rush defense, allowing an average of 81.1 rushing yards per game.
Recently, for example, they held Chargers running back Austin Ekeler to 24 rushing yards, one of Ekeler's lowest rushing totals on the season.
Most recently, they dealt Arizona running back James Conner a similar fate.
The 49ers defense is good enough to succeed to this extent against opposing rushing attacks despite having had multiple defensive linemen out for weeks due to injury. Overall, the team is sufficiently healthy right now, as its most recent games show.
New Orleans' Injury Issues
The Saints have not been so fortunate in terms of limiting and overcoming injuries. Their injury situation is particularly negative on the offensive line.
Starting center Erik McCoy is on injured reserve with a calf injury.
First-round draft pick Trevor Penning, left tackle, is also on injured reserve with a foot injury.
Veteran left tackle James Hurst is listed as 'out' according to ESPN. His injury is concussion-related.
Alvin Kamara's Struggles
It is hard for any running back to succeed behind a beleaguered offensive line.
Injuries to run-blockers are doubtlessly contributing to Saints running back Alvin Kamara's most recent lack of productivity. In each of his past four games, he has failed to exceed 3.5 YPC.
His struggles have persisted even against weaker opponents, for example, the Raiders run defense ranks 20th, yet still managed to limit Kamara.
New Orleans' Quarterback Situation
New Orleans has a negative track record without Alvin Kamara because Kamara is such a vital part of the offense. It hurts the Saints to have to rely on other players for offensive productivity.
But such is the case: with Kamara struggling, New Orleans badly needs help from its pass attack.
Ideally, a healthy Jameis Winston starts for the Saints at quarterback. However, earlier in his season, Winston's back suffered a multitude of fractures, which have kept him in the backup role or inactive altogether.
As a result, quarterback Andy Dalton has been starting for New Orleans.
Andy Dalton's Struggles
If the Saints can't rely on Kamara, then they can count to a lesser extent on Dalton.
While Dalton is coming off a great statistical performance, it is utterly unlike him to succeed two weeks in a row.
His output last week still situates him at 18th in quarterback rating because he repeatedly struggles to avoid interceptions and generally to be productive.
Dalton's lack of pass protection –he has been sacked 9 times in his last three games renders him vulnerable to the 49ers pass rush led by a healthy Bosa. Bosa ranks second in the NFL with 10.5 sacks.
San Francisco's Offense
On offense, led by a game-manager quarterback, the 49ers primarily want to run the ball.
They own the NFL's 10th-highest run-play percentage.
Their rush attack features star Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell with his 5.7 YPC, and versatile playmaker Deebo Samuel, who ran for a 39-yard touchdown in his team's last game.
New Orleans' Run Defense
The Saint defense is relatively vulnerable to the run. To be exact, New Orleans' run defense ranks 22nd.
The Saints have struggled mightily against Arizona and Baltimore backup offensive linemen and running backs, among others.
They are further hurt by injuries to defensive end Marcus Davenport and linebacker Pete Werner.
San Francisco has won three straight games, with two of those wins coming by 17 or more points.
The 49ers will dominate again because they will be able to do what they want on offense, while their defense suffocates New Orleans' beleaguered and otherwise limited attack.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.