The New Orleans Saints go marching into San Francisco to face the 49'ers in this weekend's NFL Playoff showdown. While the Saints might have won the hearts of millions of Americans, they still haven't convinced me that they can roll over the 49'ers.

5* graded NFL pick on the ‘under’ in the divisional playoff game featuring the No.2 seed San Francisco 49ers hosting the No. 3 seed New Orleans Saints set to kick-off at 4:30 PM ET, January 14, 2012.

The Saints may have won their last eight straight regular season games and even managed to overcome a 14-10 half-time deficit to the Lions last week, but there is just one trend that they are yet to break. They have lost all four of their road playoff games in the franchise's history, and join only the Bengals, who have lost five straight road playoff games, as the only two NFL teams to have never won a road playoff game.

The NFL Betting Line

Quarterback Drew Brees' regular season record breaking accomplishments has the public enamored with the Saints. This makes sense when you realize that the Saints are looking to go their second Super Bowl in the past three seasons, while the 49ers are making their first playoff appearance in nine seasons.

The NFL odds makers opened with the Saints installed as 3 -110 point favorites and a posted total of 47 -110 points. 

The point spread has been well supported by Saints wagers serving to push the line to a current level of four points. More than 57% of all bets being made at the nine off-shore sportsbooks and three Vegas books that I track are on the Saints. Subsequently, I see this line hitting 4.5 before some significant wagers on the 49ers surface and cap the line movement advance. 

The total has remained static at 47 points. Of the best being placed on the total, about 55% of the best are playing ‘over’ the total. Since the line has not moved higher this implies that the ‘sharps’ and larger NFL bettors are taking the ‘under’. Generally, being on the ‘book side’ of the line is a positive, but is only one minor variable in my highly complex handicapping methodology. 

Simulator Projections

Alex SmithMy proprietary sports betting database and simulator shows a high probability that fewer than 46 points will be scored in this game. The 49ers have the best defense left in the NFC playoffs by a considerable margin and they have a strong franchise history of playing well against prolific passing teams like the Saints. The 49ers are a solid 16-5 ‘under’ in home games facing solid offensive teams averaging better than 5.65 yards per play in the second half of the season since 1992. 

New Orleans posted a 5-3 road record with a 4-4 ATS mark away from the Superdome in 2011, but none of the straight wins seemed easy, and many required late come from behind heroics by Brees.

The Saints rallied from a deficit to beat the lowly Carolina Panthers 30-27 and failed to cover as 6 ½ point favorites October 9, then lost 26-20 installed as 6.5 point favorites to Tampa Bay a week later. They also lost 31-21 to the then-winless Rams, failing to cover as 13.5 point favorites in St. Louis.

The Saints needed overtime to win 26-23 in Atlanta to cover the pick-em spread. They defeated the Titans 22-17 while installed as three points favorites at Tennessee, and needed a red-zone stand that ended with a sack. The dominant point is that The Saints' five lowest-scoring games came away from home, and now they must face a San Francisco team that gave up 10.9 points per game while going 7-1 at home in 2011.

One of many Favorable ‘UNDER’ Matchups

The Saints may have ripped off nine straight wins, but they have not played against a team like the 49ers, who have excellent special teams and a strong defense with a penchant for creating turnovers. The 49ers led the NFL by a wide margin with a plus-28 turnover differential. The Saints have struggled playing outdoors averaging 23.8 points per game as compared to 38.0 points per game in domed games. Moreover, the 49ers defense has allowed an average of 10.0 points per game over their last three home games.

My Pick: Take the ‘Under’ for a 5* play.