What Will Life After Drew Brees Look Like in New Orleans?
Jameis Winston or Tayson Hill?
We likely won’t know the answer to that question until the night before the New Orleans Saints regular-season opener. Saints fans got a glimpse of what life after Brees would be like last season when the future first-ballot Hall of Famer missed four games. The Saints went 3-1 last season with Brees on the sidelines en route to a 12-4 record and winning the NFC South over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to BetUs, one of the Top Sportsbooks at Online Betting Sports, the Over/Under on wins for the Saints this season has been set at 9. Bettors taking the over will receive even-money odds, while the under has -130 odds.
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Tough Test Out of the Gate
If replacing a Hall of Famer was not daunting enough of a task in itself, Winston or Hill’s first game as the new man under center will come against another sure-fire Hall of Famer. New Orleans welcomes Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to town in the season opener. According to Bovada, Green Bay opens as a 3-point favorite.
Bettors taking the Saints to cover the spread will have -105 odds on Bovada and -110 odds on BetUs. Both sites have the Saints with +140 odds on the Moneyline.
Rest of the Schedule Breakdown
After the NFL Week 1 test, the schedule gets a little easier over the next few weeks. New Orleans has winnable games on the road against Carolina and New England before hosting the New York Giants in NFL Week 4 and back on the road at Washington in NFL Week 6.
After its bye week, New Orleans plays at Seattle and then the first of two games against the Bucs in NFL Week 8.
NFL Weeks 10 and 12 will be tough tests as well, with a game at Tennessee and at home vs. Buffalo, respectively.
Another key swing game comes in Week 16 against Miami before finishing the regular season vs. Carolina and at Atlanta.
Status of Star Player
Regardless of who eventually is named the starting quarterback, Sean Payton will most likely have packages for both players to be inserted into the game. But whoever wins the battle, they will be down a key weapon to start the season as the health of Michael Thomas is a major concern. The game-changing wideout is rumored to be out of the lineup until at least October. Thomas missed half of last season as well with the same ankle injury.
Other Key Offensive Players
No doubt, Alvin Kamara will be the centerpiece of the offense; as Kamara goes, so goes the Saints. Latavius Murray compliments Kamara well in the backfield, while Devonta Freeman is hoping to earn some reps in the backfield as well.
With Thomas out, that leaves Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway as the Saints’ top receivers. Deonte Harris and Chris Hogan add depth to the position while the team is hoping former Bears’ first-round pick Kevin White can stay healthy and resemble a shell of the potential he displayed coming into the league.
Adam Trautman will be the top tight end target, while Nick Vannett and Juwan Johnson will earn some reps at the position as well.
With Tom Brady finding his groove at the end of last season and the entire supporting cast returning for the Bucs, New Orleans will most likely be playing for a Wild Card spot. That road became even tougher with the status of Thomas up in the air, and reaching the target of nine wins may be a stretch as well. But if Kamara can strap the team on his back and Winston/Hill protect the ball, both the win total and playoffs are within reach. The Saints also have a favorable finish over the final three weeks, which could push them over the top.
Final 2021-22 Season Record: 10-7, 2nd in NFC South
Divisional Odds and More
According to BetUs, the Saints’ odds of winning the NFC South stand at +350, which are slightly better than those at Bovada (+315).
BetUs also has the Saints’ odds of clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC at +1500, winning the NFC +1400, and securing a Wildcard berth at +290.