Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-3)
At one point, the Saints had won 20 straight home games, covering in all but 2 of them, but now they’ve lost 6 straight home games, all as favorites. They are favored here again at home, though only by 3.5 points, against a Dallas team that is so banged up right now and just lost pretty easily at home to an average at best Atlanta team. Not only are they missing Tony Romo and Dez Bryant from an offense that had next to no injuries last season, but they’re also missing rookie defensive end Randy Gregory and suspended free agent acquisition Greg Hardy, though they will get defensive end Jeremy Mincey back from a concussion this week after he missed last week’s game against Atlanta. This line isn’t giving the Saints nearly the same respect at home as they are used to, which increases their chances of covering.
The Saints are also getting a few key players back from injury, as Drew Brees, who missed his first game with injury in over a decade last week, returns, as do key defensive backs Jairus Byrd and Keenan Lewis, who will be making their season debuts. Guard Jahri Evans will miss his 2nd straight game with a knee injury and they made a weird move by sending starting defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to the Patriots for a backup tight end and, after a rough off-season, this team is still a far cry from even last year’s team, but I think they have a good chance of beating the Cowboys by at least 4 and covering here. The Cowboys are 18-8 ATS as road underdogs since 2010, but it’s unclear how the loss of the starting quarterback will affect that.
It definitely helps the Saints that the Cowboys are in a terrible spot, hosting New England next week, against whom they will are expected to be 8.5 point home underdogs. Teams are 35-74 ATS since 2012 before being 4+ point home underdogs, 19-49 ATS before being 6+ point home underdogs, and 12-28 ATS before being 7+ point home underdogs. That’s because when you have a game coming up like that it generally means one of two things. One, you have a very tough game coming up that serves as a distraction. Two, you really aren’t that good of a football team. I think it’s probably both in this situation.
The Saints have to go to Philadelphia next week, which isn’t easy, but they’re still in a much better situation. On top of that, Drew Brees is 24-8 ATS since 2008 off of a loss as long as Sean Payton is coaching, including 16-5 ATS at home off a loss. He’s only 4-6 ATS off of a loss over the past 2 seasons, including 2-4 ATS at home off of a loss, so that trend has definitely lost some luster too, like their homefield advantage, but the Saints should be the right side here. I wouldn’t put money on it though.
New Orleans Saints 27 Dallas Cowboys 21
Pick against the spread: New Orleans -3.5