One of the most controversial and talked about topics in the sports world in recent weeks hasn’t come on a court or field, but instead in the court of public opinion.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees found himself at the center of controversy, first saying he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” and then quickly apologizing the next day, saying he “completely missed the mark.”
Brees’ comments drew ire from teammates Michael Thomas and Malcolm Jenkins, possibly creating locker-room turmoil for the upcoming season. But the teammates since have patched things up and appear to have put it behind them. Still, bettors can’t help but wonder what kind of effect Brees’ comments will have on a New Orleans team hoping to reach the Super Bowl.
The Saints finished 13-3 last season, tied with the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers for the second-best regular-season record. New Orleans ran away with the NFC South but lost in the wild-card round to the Minnesota Vikings 26-20 in overtime as 7-point home favorites. New Orleans this season looks to avenge that early playoff exit in what many believe will be Brees’ final NFL campaign.
The Saints made a trio of additions in free agency, bringing in former 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, former Philadelphia Eagles safety Jenkins and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.
New Orleans made just four selections in the draft, solidifying its offensive line with Michigan center Cesar Ruiz in the first round, followed by a pair of third-round picks in Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun and Dayton tight end Adam Trautman. New Orleans took a flier on Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens in the seventh round.
So what do the oddsmakers make of New Orleans in 2020?
The Saints’ win total is set at 10.5 across the market, tied with the 49ers for the second-highest win total in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens are tied for the highest win total at 11.5.
However, unlike the 49ers, who have their 10.5 win total juiced to the over, the Saints have their 10.5 win total juiced to the under. FanDuel is hanging New Orleans under 10.5 wins at -120 (over +100). DraftKings and PointsBet are both under 10.5 at -115 (over -106). Circa Sports is the lone outlier hanging a win total of 10 with -130 over juice (+110 under).
Reading between the lines, oddsmakers and smart money are on the Saints taking a step back from last season’s 13-3 mark, possibly down to 10-6. One reason for the regression downward could be their division. New Orleans now has to deal with Tom Brady and the new-look Bucs twice in the regular season.
That said, here is one reason to like the over if you disagree with the juice liability: the Saints have the ninth-easiest schedule for the upcoming campaign. Their 2020 opponents went a combined 125-130-1 (.490) last season.
Here is the full Saints schedule:
Week 1: vs. Buccaneers
Week 2: at Las Vegas Raiders
Week 3: vs. Packers
Week 4: at Detroit Lions
Week 5: vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: vs. Carolina Panthers
Week 8: at Chicago Bears
Week 9: at Buccaneers
Week 10: vs. 49ers
Week 11: vs. Atlanta Falcons
Week 12: at Denver Broncos
Week 13: at Falcons
Week 14: at Eagles
Week 15: vs. Chiefs
Week 16: vs. Vikings
Week 17: at Panthers
The Saints are a relative shoo-in to make the postseason. New Orleans is a -350 favorite to make the playoffs at FanDuel and +270 to miss the playoffs. Sean Payton’s team is a modest -110 favorite to win the NFC South, followed by the Bucs +160, Falcons +700 and Panthers +1400.
New Orleans has the second-best odds to win the NFC at +650, trailing only the 49ers at +460. The Saints have the fourth-best Super Bowl odds at +1200, trailing the Chiefs +650, Ravens +700 and 49ers +900.
In terms of player props, Brees’ over/under passing yards is 4,049.5 and passing touchdowns is 30.5. Brees missed time due to injury last season but still put up 2,979 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. Brees is +1700 to win MVP, tied with Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. Only Patrick Mahomes (+380), Lamar Jackson (+600), Russell Wilson (+600) and Dak Prescott (+1200) are higher
Thomas’ over/under receiving yards is 1,404.5 and receiving touchdowns is 8.5. He finished with 1,725 yards and 9 touchdowns last season.
Alvin Kamara’s over/under for combined rushing and receiving yards is 1,524.5. Kamara finished with 797 rushing yards and 533 receiving yards last season (total 1,330 yards).
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images