The OVER is usually an easy NFL pick whenever the New Orleans Saints are playing, but they’ve hit a speed bump. Can the Saints get back on track Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens defense?
Jason’s record after Week 11: 29-43 ATS, 13-17-1 Totals
Profit: minus-45.95 units
If it’s the New Orleans Saints, people must be betting the OVER. This has been one of the most offensively gifted teams in the NFL ever since head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees came to town in 2006. And more often than not, the Saints have matched that offense with some incredibly porous defense. This year’s defense ranks No. 30 in the league in efficiency, and the OVER is 7-3 after 10 games.
Sure enough, our consensus reports showed unanimous support for the OVER when it opened at 49.5 points for Monday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. Were you one of those early-bird shoppers? If not, never fear: You can still get that total if you shop around, although most books on our Week 12 NFL odds board have bumped it up to 50 points. We still had 70 percent consensus at that higher price as we went to press. Seems like a slam-dunk over the goalpost, right? Right?
Check out this other capper's take on the Ravens vs. Saints
Not Enough Cooks
If only betting on the NFL were that simple – especially this year. The mighty Saints offense hasn’t been all that mighty of late; the UNDER is 2-1 in their past three games, and it took overtime against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 to keep it from going 3-0. New Orleans was held to a season-low 330 total yards in last week’s 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals (UNDER 51). That was at the Superdome, too.
Injuries are the prime culprit here. RB Mark Ingram has been forced to carry almost the entire load at tailback with Pierre Thomas (shoulder, rib) and Khiry Robinson (forearm) both on the sidelines, and Ingram himself is less than 100 percent with a shoulder injury. Despite fielding the league’s No. 30-ranked defense against the run, Cincinnati held Ingram to 67 yards and zero touchdowns on 23 carries. The Bengals also knocked RT Zach Strief out of the game with a concussion late in the first quarter. Bryce Harris struggled to hold the line in relief.
Even worse, the Saints air attack took a major hit last week when WR Brandin Cooks (53 catches, three TDs) was put on injured reserve with a broken thumb. Cooks was their second-leading receiver behind Jimmy Graham (59 catches, seven TDs), as well as their punt returner. New Orleans picked up Jalen Saunders from the Seattle Seahawks practice squad on Wednesday to fill in for Cooks. You may remember Saunders from the two punts he muffed for the New York Jets earlier this year.
Kung Fu Yanda
That’s the bad news in the Big Easy. Now the good: To make room for Saunders, the Saints released RB Brian Leonard, which suggests that Thomas could return to action this week. Robinson’s status is unclear – the nature of his injury still hasn’t been disclosed, and he’s already missed four games thus far. Having the extra day to heal up for Monday Night Football could be all the difference for the Saints this week.
As for the Ravens, they have the No. 7-ranked defense in the league to go along with their No. 12-ranked offense, splitting the over/under at 5-5 thus far. Put them on the road, however, and the OVER improves to 4-1. Baltimore comes to the Superdome fresh off a bye week with few injuries of note; RG Marshal Yanda (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday, but he was back on the field Thursday and has yet to miss a game since Week 17 of the 2012 campaign. Good thing: Yanda’s the highest graded offensive lineman in the league at Pro Football Focus. With Yanda on board and the Saints running game likely to add some beef, we’ll take the OVER for our NFL pick and we’ll like it.
Free NFL Pick: Bet OVER 50 at BetOnline