2011 NFL Playoffs: The New Orleans Saints’ Odds to Win The NFC Championship

The New Orleans Saints are locked in as the No. 5 seed in the NFC after an 11-5 season. You will find the Saints at +450 to win the NFC championship and advance to the Super Bowl, according to the latest NFL playoffs odds.

New Orleans is the reigning Super Bowl champ and can’t be counted out as they try to repeat. But the road to Dallas will be a lot more difficult, as they’ll likely have to win three straight road games to get there. That’s because they were unable to win their division and grab the No. 1 seed like they did a year ago. The Atlanta Falcons took the NFC South, and will be the No. 1 seed in the NFC this year as the road to the Super Bowl goes through the Georgia Dome.

The Saints beat the Falcons in Week 16 to have a shot at home-field advantage. But they would ultimately need the Falcons to lose to the Carolina Panthers in Week 17 while also beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers themselves. Neither happened, as Atlanta rolled to a victory and the Saints were beaten at home.

The Saints will have to travel to face the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round, but are listed as 10.5-point road favorites for that game. They are heavily favored due to the fact the NFC West was down this season as Seattle won it with a 7-9 record, and also that New Orleans has already beaten the Seahawks 34-19 at home back on November 21.

The Saints lost free safety Malcolm Jenkins, tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Chris Ivory all in the first quarter last week. Those injuries, coupled with the fact that head coach Sean Payton knew the Falcons were running away from the Panthers, forced him to sit his starters late. They even punted from the 50-yard line down 10 with two minutes remaining.

“Our whole preparation was to win,” Payton said. “There was a point where, we discussed this as a staff, if in the second half that other game got out of whack we were going to back off and not get anybody injured.” Certainly they wanted to win that game, but having everyone healthy to make a playoff run is what’s most important. Plus, QB Drew Brees has stated that he will play anybody, anywhere with the team he has at his disposal.

New Orleans went 6-2 on the road this season, and their offense was even more potent away from home. The Saints averaged 24.0 points and 373 yards per game overall, and 26.9 points and 379 yards on the road. Their offense ranks No. 6 in the league while their defense sits at No. 4, yielding 306 total yards per game. The Saints aren’t getting the same turnovers of a year ago, but their defense is actually better as a whole, giving up 19.2 points per game.

Considering the Saints have actually played their best football on the road this season, they certainly have a shot to reach a second consecutive Super Bowl. With Brees at the helm and the experience they gained last season, it would not surprise me one bit to see them representing the NFC in February. You can get some decent value with the Saints at +450, tied for the third-worst odds in the NFC with the Eagles. A couple late-season injuries certainly hurt their chances, though.

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