New Orleans Saints (1-2) at Detroit Lions (1-2)
The Saints are off to one of the most disappointing starts in the league, as this expected Super Bowl contender has started just 1-2, including back-to-back losses as favorites against the Raiders and Packers. The Saints’ early season schedule has been tough and they’ve historically struggled early in the season (4-17-1 ATS in weeks 1-2 since 2010, as compared to 85-54-2 ATS in week 3-17), but I’m not so sure they’re about to turn things around.
With quarterback Drew Brees going into his age 41 season, his early season struggles could easily be a sign of more to come. On top of that, while top wide receiver Michael Thomas was expected back this week, not only is he not returning, but the Saints’ injury situation is getting even worse, with tight end Jared Cook joining Thomas on the sidelines from the offense and cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins joining edge defender Marcus Davenport, who has been out all season, on the sidelines from the defense.
The Lions, meanwhile, are going in the other direction injury wise. They got top wide receiver Kenny Golladay and starting offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai back last week and this week they are expected to get back cornerback Desmond Trufant, who was expected to be their top cornerback before he got hurt. The Lions’ weren’t overly impressive in picking up their first win of the season in Arizona last week, as they needed to win the turnover margin by 3 to even win that game by 3, something they won’t be able to rely on every week, and they’ve been very underwhelming so far to start the season, ranking 2nd to last in first down rate differential at -8.37%, only ahead of the Jets, but this team is much more talented than that suggests, as their talent level is in line with a middling team when they’re relatively healthy like they are now.
I have the Lions 17th in my roster rankings, just a few spots behind the 10th ranked Saints, so we’re getting decent line value with the Lions, who are getting a full field goal at home. This is a small bet because it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the Saints were able to exceed expectations and start their annual mid-season run, while the Lions really haven’t played well yet this season, but the Lions have a good chance to keep this close or even to pull the straight up upset, given the differing injury situations these two teams are in.
New Orleans Saints 31 Detroit Lions 30
Pick against the spread: Detroit +3