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Saints are Worth the Gamble as a Big Long Shot in 2017

The New Orleans Saints are a fun team. They score a lot of points, averaging 28 points per game over the last six seasons. Unfortunately, all that scoring on offense has translated to zero success on defense as the Saints have been historically awful at giving up points. Here’s where the Saints have ranked in points allowed per game over the past four seasons — 31st, 32nd, 28th and 31st. So, yes, they’re fun to watch because they’re often involved in very high-scoring games, but the uptempo offense and Swiss-cheese defense has resulted in three straight seasons below .500.

Undoubtedly, the offense will scorch the earth again this season. Pairing Adrian Peterson with Mark Ingram in the backfield won’t hurt while Michael Thomas looks like a lock to improve on his rookie season and enter the top tier of wide receivers. Then, of course, there’s 38-year-old Drew Brees, who should continue to put up monster numbers.

But what about the train-wreck defense? Have they actually done anything to improve over the offseason? Maybe a little bit, which could ultimately be the difference of a win or two. New Orleans went all-in on defense in the draft, adding shutdown corner Marshon Lattimore from Ohio State at No. 11 overall and free safety Marcus Williams from Utah with its second-round selection. The Saints will need the rookie duo to mature fast if they stand any chance of improving a league-worst pass defense from 2016. They also added the often injured Manti Te’o through free agency and he’s expected to start at middle linebacker. The former Notre Dame standout has been above average, at best, throughout his career, but it’s possible a change of scenery might do him some good.

And before we move on to their futures odds, here’s a HUGE trend to keep in mind when betting the Saints game to game each week — the Saints are 17-4-1 ATS in their last 22 games as an underdog! This includes a 7-1-1 mark as a dog last season, so keep an eye on them in this spot this season.

Super Bowl +5000

This one is kind of easy to just dismiss, but let’s consider that the 2008 Saints, coached by Sean Payton and quarterbacked by Drew Brees, won the Super Bowl after finishing 7-9 the season before, so making a major leap is something this team has done before. Betting on a team to win the Super Bowl after three consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs doesn’t seem like a smart investment, but the Atlanta Falcons were in an excellent spot to do so last season had they not blown that 28-3 lead. There have actually been four teams since 1966 to miss the playoffs in three straight seasons and then go on to win the Super Bowl, with the most recent being the 2000 Ravens.

I’m not incredibly optimistic about the Saints this season, but I do think they’re better than last season’s 7-9 club. Led by a coach and QB who’ve been there before, if you want to take a risk on a long shot to win the Super Bowl, the Saints are your best bet.

NFC South +400

With the exception of the Panthers winning the division in three straight seasons from 2013 to 2015, the NFC South has a history of parity as no other team has won it in consecutive seasons. The Saints have the longest odds in the division, and I feel that there’s some value here considering the history of turnover in the division. A solid argument against them, however, is that they played quite poorly in divisional games last season, going just 2-4.

Win total – 8

I think they’re better this year, but good enough to get to nine wins to hit the OVER? The Saints may have actually hit some bad luck last year as seven of their nine losses were by six points or less. In terms of strength of schedule, they’re right in the middle of the pack with the 16th-hardest schedule. In addition to their divisional matchups, they’re paired with the AFC East, NFC North and games vs the Redskins and Rams.

There is a realistic path to nine wins here if they can improve their divisional record to 3-3, split the games vs the AFC East and NFC North teams, then defeat both the Redskins and Rams. I think this is doable, especially when you consider the last cold-weather destination they need to visit is Buffalo on November 12, so they’re really not handicapped at all by needing to play in the cold/snow.

Brees and Payton have at least one last push — take the OVER.

Most Receiving Yards – Michael Thomas +2000

Wouldn’t it make sense for the No. 1 receiving option for the NFL’s three-time reigning passing yards leader to lead the league in receiving yards? I think so and think there’s nice value here as Thomas should be on an upward trajectory at just 24 years old. Thomas finished ninth last season and that was with Brandin Cooks, who finished 40 yards ahead of him, in the lineup. Cooks, of course, is on the Patriots now, so look for Thomas to see an increase from last year’s 92 receptions and 122 targets. Considering this will be just his sophomore season, it’s totally within the realm of possibility that Thomas is the next big thing at receiver in the NFL.

2017 new orleans saints Futures Odds
Super Bowl+5000
NFC Championship+200
NFC South+400
Win Total8

Odds as of August 25 at Bovada