The New England Patriots are expected to go with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback Thursday night when they kick off their NFL preseason schedule at home against the New Orleans Saints as 3-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by

Quarterback Tom Brady is facing a four-game suspension to start the regular season, and he’s also reportedly will be on the sideline for Thursday’s contest against the Saints. Garoppolo is expected to run the Patriots’ offense in Brady’s absence to start the season, and it remains to be seen how duties will be split for the rest of the exhibition slate.

The first week of training camp also featured the return of wide receiver Julian Edelman from New England’s injury list after he underwent offseason surgery on his left foot, but after he left practice Tuesday with an injury scare, it is unclear whether the 30-year-old will be available for Thursday night’s Saints vs. Patriots betting matchup at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots and Saints practiced together for a second consecutive year in advance of their third preseason clash since 2010.

New England has gone undefeated in those meetings, posting victories by three or fewer points in each, including a narrow 26-24 win as a 2.5-point underdog last summer at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Patriots also eked out a 7-6 home victory in 2012, failing to cover as 5-point chalk, but they covered a 1.5-point spread in a 27-24 win in 2010, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Patriots’ dominance of the Saints also extends to the regular season, where they are winners of four of their past five meetings, including their last three at Gillette Stadium. Those trends complicate an already daunting task for New Orleans, which is winless in its past five August outings, both straight up and against the spread.

However, the Patriots have been less than a lock in recent preseason matchups, posting a winning record in August only once since 2010 and dropping decisions in their past two preseason dates at home.

New Orleans is coming off a second consecutive 7-9 campaign in 2015, with the club missing the postseason. But the Saints finished last season on a high note, winning three of their final four outings as Drew Brees averaged 347 passing yards over that stretch to finish with a league-high 4,870 yards, an even 100 yards more than Brady.

While the Saints open the preseason as a distant +6600 bet on the Super Bowl odds, Brees returns to action as +500 chalk to once again be the NFL’s top passer, and as a +1200 wager to claim NFL MVP honors.

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