New England Patriots (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)
One of the big surprises of week 1 was the Patriots losing at home to the Chiefs by 15. The Patriots entered the season as the consensus top team in the league and hadn’t lost a meaningful conference home game with Tom Brady since the 2012 AFC Championship. The Patriots’ defensive front 7 had a lot of problems, especially after Dont’a Hightower went down with a knee injury, while their offense seemed to really miss Julian Edelman, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Hightower will miss this game, meaning the Patriots are now without 4 linebackers they had in July (Rob Ninkovich, Derek Rivers, Shea McClellin). The Patriots will also be without wide receiver Danny Amendola, who joins fellow wide receivers Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell on the sidelines.
All that being said, the Patriots still are one of the more talented teams in the league. Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski are a dangerous receiving duo who should have better weeks when not matched up with Marcus Peters and Eric Berry. They have a strong offensive line, a stable of running backs who can carry the ball and/or contribute in the passing game, a talented secondary and, of course, Tom Brady under center. Brady has been especially dangerous off of a loss in his career, going 35-17 ATS (Bill Belichick is 45-24 ATS as head coach of the Patriots).
That being said, this line didn’t really adjust for the loss, as it remains at 6.5, where it was on the early line. Part of that is probably because even casual bettors know how well the Patriots bounce back from losses at this point (New England is one of the most heavily bet teams on the week). Part of that is probably because the Saints had a disappointing week 1 performance in Minnesota, in a 29-19 loss. The Vikings are an underrated team, but there is reason for concern with the Saints, especially with cornerback Delvin Breaux, left tackle Terron Armstead, and wide receiver Willie Snead out. Right tackle Zach Strief will join them on the sideline this week, so the Saints are pretty short-handed as well. The Patriots should be the right side, but I would not recommend betting them at -6.5.
New England Patriots 34 New Orleans Saints 26
Pick against the spread: New England -6.5