Timing is a pivotal part of perception. Pit the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints against each other in Week 10, and the 49ers might have been consensus favorites. The Saints were coming off a loss to the New York Jets, and the 49ers were coming off a blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and a bye week. After Week 10, however, public opinion shifted greatly in favor of the Saints.
With the 49ers falling to the Carolina Panthers in a 10-9 loss and the Saints rolling off a 49-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys, NFL experts across the Internet are overwhelmingly siding with New Orleans. SB Nation's six-member panel is the most level-headed, with four of six taking the Saints. At CBS, only Pete Prisco took the 49ers among the nine prognosticators. ESPN and Yahoo! gave the 49ers zero chance of winning.
Given how tight the matchup appears on paper -- that Saints are favored by just three points, according to Odds Shark -- it's somewhat surprising that experts are so overwhelmingly bullish on the Saints. We'll see whether they are right starting at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.