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How the Saints have fared as underdogs since 2006

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The Saints have not spent a lot of time as underdogs since the 2006 season, but how have they performed when they are?

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Since the New Orleans Saints franchise found its rejuvenation in 2006 with new head coach Sean Payton and franchise quarterback Drew Brees, they have been favored far more than not. In fact, the disparity is huge. Of the Saints’ 224 games since September 10, 2006 they have been favored (negative point spread) by Vegas odds 154 times. 69% of the time. The divide is even more stark in home games. Of the 112 home games since Payton and Brees arrive, the Saints have been favored a whopping 98 times, or 87.5% of the time. They were favored at home during the entire span of 2009 through 2011 and again in 2013 and 2014.

While New Orleans has enjoyed being a Vegas favorite in many matchups, how have they fared in games where the line is not on their side?

Since 2006 the Saints have spent 70 games as underdogs, the third fewest in the NFL. Being an underdog in less than a third of the games your team plays is pretty impressive. How the team handles those games, however, is what is most important.

A General Overview

To start, looking at these games in broad stroke is simple.

Against the spread, the Saints are 41-28-1. This means that, win or loss, they have finished the majority of those games with a point differential less than that of the spread. (I.e. a 28-30 loss is a win against a +3 spread.) They also had one push where the differential was the same as the spread.

Straight up, New Orleans holds a record of 30-40 when they are underdogs. While that is a losing record, it is actually the fourth-best underdog record in the NFL during that span of time. Only the Patriots (16-9) and Steelers (30-28) have winning records in this group.

NFL Underdog W/L Records Since 2006

Team Wins Losses W/L%
Team Wins Losses W/L%
New England Patriots 16 9 0.640
Pittsburgh Steelers 30 28 0.517
Philadelphia Eagles 32 42 0.432
New Orleans Sainta 30 40 0.429
Dallas Cowboys 31 45 0.408

Home vs. Away

Now to dig a little deeper. Going back to homefield advantage, the Saints have only been underdogs in the Dome 14 times, second-fewest since 2006. Their 9-5 record under these conditions is also second best in the NFL. Hard to beat the Patriots’ 4-0 perfect record here.

As underdogs on the road, New Orleans is 21-35. Expectedly less successful than they have been at home, however still in the top-ten best teams straight up at eighth. The 56-game total is fifth-fewest as well.

Betting for the Saints to win straight up at home even when not favored makes sense, but one might pause before laying down any cash on the road.

Against the spread, the Saints are an impressive 31-24-1 on the road and 10-4 at home. Though they have only covered in a loss once since 2006 in their 38-41 home thriller against the Carolina Panthers in 2015.

In the Division

The Saints have one of the NFL’s best division records going 51-33 in the NFC South since 2006. That 60.7% win rate ties them up at fifth best. But how do they perform when they are not favored against division opponents? Consistently well, in fact.

Division games can be some of the hardest games on a team’s schedule. Both teams are very familiar with one another and it makes for specific type of challenge. The Saints have not spent much time as underdogs against their division rivals, going unfavored in only 27 matchups, tied for fifth fewest. In terms of their success against that unfavorable line, they have managed an impressive 18-9 record against the spread, 12-15 straight up.

Again, while it is a losing record, the 44.4% win rate ties for fifth in the league. New Orleans continues to be consistent and successful as an underdog even within their division.

Playoffs?!

The black and gold have never been underdogs at home int he playoffs and thus have only seen five post season games where are not the favorites. In those games they have gone 4-1 against the spread, but just 2-3 straight up. This includes a huge win at a neutral site as well, Super Bowl XLIV.

Bye, Bye, Bye

Over the last ten years, Saints have been one of the better teams off of their bye week in the last ten years. But the Sean Payton-era squad has seen its struggles as underdogs following the bye week going 3-2 against the spread, but 2-3 straight up.

Doing the Splits

This one is pretty cut and dried. New Orleans tends to perform better against spreads between +3 and +6 than others since 2006. However, they have performed well against the spread when the Line is greater than +5.

Saints vs. Line Splits

Line Amount W-L ATS W-L SU ATS at Home SU at Home
Line Amount W-L ATS W-L SU ATS at Home SU at Home
< +3 12-14 11-15 5-3 5-3
+3 - +5 19-8-1 16-12 4-0 4-0
> +5 10-6 3-13 1-1 0-2

When splitting games, you can look at the early half of the season versus the latter half and see a clear difference between the two. New Orleans is far better operating unfavored early on than they have been late. Some of this also has to do with the fact that usually the Saints are not underdogs in the end of seasons where the team is already performing well, but instead the majority of the time, they are already struggling. Such as the 2012 and 2014-16 seasons.

Games 1-8: 26-11 ATS, 19-18 SU.
Games 9-16: 16-17-1 ATS, 12-22 SU

Largest Underdog Spreads

The largest at home was mentioned earlier, +6.5 to the Carolina Panthers in 2015. They lost that game, but covered. The largest came against Carolina as well, but earlier in the 2009-10 season which was a +10 spread. The Saints lost the game and did not cover. But they did win the Super Bowl that year. So who cares much about that?

Finally, Some Live-Betting Nuggets

Closing out for the risk takers out there. Live betting against the spread gives some additional information in what kinds of plays to make in the betting world. There is a pretty good identifier for New Orleans operating as underdogs.

Of the 70 games since 2006, the Saints have scored first in 32. Of those, they hold a noticeable 24-8 record ATS and 19-13 straight up.

When they have led at any point in those games, which they have done 52 times, New Orleans is 37-15-1 ATS and 30-22 SU.

On the other hand, if they trail at any point (57 times), they are 28-28-1 ATS and 17-40 SU. Of course, there is some overlap between those, but the Saints prove very successful when scoring first or leading at any point. That makes sense, being a team that has always done a good job under Payton and Brees to take advantage of momentum - especially in the Dome.

The New Orleans Saints are one of the best teams as underdogs in the last 14 seasons. Bolster league-highs or at least highly-positions rankings across the board with a few, diagnosable stumbles along the way.


How often do you think the Saints will be underdogs in 2020? Let us know in the comments! Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RossJacksonNOLA.