These might be the two best teams in the NFC if not the entire NFL. Both are 10-2 SU and it should be among the best matchups on Sunday’s card as the San Francisco 49ers travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints have been particularly impressive this season in the way that they dealt with the absence of starting quarterback Drew Brees. Brees is back under center but his team set the table for him nicely–New Orleans long ago wrapped up the NFC South and enter play here 5 games up on Tampa Bay and Carolina.
The San Francisco 49ers have a bit more difficult situation in the NFC West. They got off to a strong start and for awhile it looked as if they might run away with their division much like the Saints. That hasn’t been the case due in large part to the red hot form of Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. The Niners and Seahawks are tied at 10-2 entering Sunday action but Seattle currently holds the tiebreaker. San Francisco hasn’t had an easy run of late–while New Orleans was taking care of bumbling Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa Bay in their last three games the Niners have been busy with Seattle, Arizona, Green Bay and Baltimore. They gave a very impressive effort last time out facing the red hot Ravens on the road but lost 20-17 though got the money as +6 road underdogs.
One thing that is certain–it’s not necessarily a good thing to wrap up a divisional title so early. It’s one thing for the Saints to look sharp against the likes of the Falcons and Bucs, another thing to lack focus against this class of opponent. Every time a West Coast team plays in the early Sunday game on the East Coast someone inevitably suggests that the time zone differences are a factor but the Niners are 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS away from home. They’ve also stepped up strong as an underdog (3-0 ATS) and particularly as a short priced road dog of 3 or less where they’re 2-0 SU/ATS.
This is an important game for the Niners. Seattle is playing the Rams this week and no matter which team wins it’ll be bad for San Francisco if they should lose. A Seahawks victory coupled with a Niners loss would give them a full game margin and a tiebreaker atop the division. A Rams win and they creep closer in the standings and are given new life. San Francisco’s next game is at home against lowly Atlanta before they conclude the regular season against the Rams and at Seattle. No disrespect for New Orleans–the Saints are an excellent team. The difference in this matchup, however, is that the road team needs a win to keep pace in their division while the Saints just don’t have the same degree of urgency.