Green Bay Packers (2-0) at New Orleans Saints (1-1)
The Saints lost in Las Vegas to the Raiders last week and it seems to be a common narrative this week that the sky is falling in New Orleans. Drew Brees’ production has been questionable through two games and some are wondering if the 41-year-old might be done, with some media conversations discussing whether or not the Saints would be better off starting backup Jameis Winston instead of the future Hall-of-Famer. That reaction is noticeable in this line, which shifted from 5.5 on the early line last week to 3 this week.
The part that is usually left out of that discussion is that the Saints pretty much always do this to start the season. Since 2010, they are just 4-17-1 ATS in the first two weeks of the season, as opposed to 85-53-2 ATS in weeks 3-17. Over the previous three seasons, the Saints won more regular season games than any team in the league, but they were just 2-4 in the first two weeks of the season, including a pair of losses to eventual non-playoff qualifiers. The Saints losing their 2018 home opener to the eventual 5-win Buccaneers didn’t mean the sky was falling that season, so I wouldn’t be so sure that losing to a competent Raiders team in their first game in their new stadium means the sky is falling this season.
Brees’ age can’t be ignored and neither can the fact that he is without his top wide receiver Michael Thomas for at least another week, but I had the Saints as my highest rated team coming into the season and they still rank 3rd in my roster rankings despite a slow start and the absence of Michael Thomas, so the Saints could end up being very undervalued going forward if they can get over their early season struggles like they always do.
I wouldn’t assume that week 3 is a magic week for the Saints (even if they are 7-3 ATS in week 3 since 2010) or that the Saints are going to get hot like they normally do until Thomas can return and the Packers are a quality opponent as well, but the Packers are without top wide receiver Davante Adams and could be without top defensive lineman Kenny Clark for another week as well, so they’re not at full strength either. If both of those guys are out, I still have the Saints as 5-point favorites in this game even without Thomas, so there would be enough line value for the Saints to be worth a bet. I’ll leave this as a low confidence pick for now, but I may update this tomorrow.
Update: Clark’s status is unclear, but I think this line might move up to 3.5 by gametime if he’s ruled out, so I am going to lock this in at -3 while I can. I am comfortable betting on the Saints either way because Clark could be hobbled if he plays.
New Orleans Saints 33 Green Bay Packers 27
Pick against the spread: New Orleans -3