NFL Picks: Betting Edge Is Found On Patriots ML When They Welcome The Saints

New England Patriots

Kevin Stott

Monday, August 8, 2016 8:55 PM GMT

Two of the best Head Coaches in the NFL will meet in New England on Thursday night when Bill Belichick and the Patriots welcome Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. Let’s handicap this game and provide an NFL pick.

New Orleans Saints vs New England Patriots
The New Orleans Saints head to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Thursday night to face the New England Patriots in the opening NFL Preseason game for both teams. Offshore sportsbooks currently either have the Patriots as 3- (-130 at 5Dimes,-119 at BetDSI) to 3½-point favorites (Even, Heritage, at GTBets, YouWager) with the Total (Points) currently at 39 (5Dimes, YouWager, TheGreek). In the Money Line (Winner) market, the host Patriots are priced as solid -185 chalks with the Colts at -160 on the takeback for NFL odds (5Dimes). 

The New England Patriots Total Team Points for this contest has been set at 21 (-111, BetVictor) with the New Orleans Saints Total Team Points is at 18 (-120, BetVictor). The Weather Channel forecast for Foxboro on Thursday night is currently calling for Partly Cloudy skies followed by scattered Thunderstorms, a low of 68°, WSW Winds of 9 mph and 80% Humidity, so, Mother Nature may play a part in this lidlifter for these two sides.

 

New Orleans Saints
New Orleans signed veteran FB John Kuhn (Green Bay Packers) this week and in a news conference on Friday, 10th-year Saints Head Coach Sean Payton (80-71-3 ATS) said that he was impressed with the way his Defense had played earlier in the day’s scrimmage saying “the takeaways on that side of the ball were impressive.” But the difference between a Scrimmage against your own teammates as opposed to a real Preseason game against a team in the middle of a dynasty on their Home turf is a completely different story. Like they did last season at The Greenbriar before their Preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, these two teams will hold joint practices before this opener, so there is some Preseason familiarity between the Patriots and Saints, although these NFC South and AFC East sides seldom meet in the NFL Regular Season.

At the QB spot on the Saints (66/1 to win Super Bowl LI, at WilliamHill) Roster, it all starts with 37-year-old veteran Drew Brees, who can’t be expected to play too much, if any, here on Thursday night with the Purdue product’s health the one big thing a decent New Orleans Regular Season will try to be built around. Therefore, expect 2nd-string, 13th-season QB Luke McCown (Louisiana Tech, 335 Passing Yards in 2015) and 3rd-string, 2nd-season QB Garrett Grayson (Colorado State) to get their fair share of Playing Time. Other Skill position players like WR Brandin Cooks (Probable), WR Michael Thomas, WR Willie Snead, WR Brandon Coleman and WR Reggie Bell may be targeted some and the Saints Offense may feature guys like RB Tim Hightower and CJ Spiller with No. 1 back Mark Ingram possibly being preserved for tougher times as well as starting TE Coby Fleener as the Saints (7/1 to win NFC South, Ladbrokes) won’t want to expose any key cogs to too many potential opportunities to get hurt with this being the first Preseason game of the fresh season.

 

New England Patriots
Veteran superstar Tom Brady will not be playing here for 17th-year Head Coach Bill Belichick (159-127-1 ATS) and the New England Patriots (9/1 to win Super Bowl LI, Ladbrokes) in the Preseason opener nor will the Michigan product be playing in the Patriots first four Regular Season games (at AZ, MIA, HOU, BUF) after finally begrudgingly accepting the NFL’s 4-game Suspension handed down by the league for the Patriots QB’s perceived involvement in the Deflategate Scandal after a Federal Court held up a previous decision made by an Appeal Panel. 

So once again the name Jimmy Garoppolo gets thrown into the lexicon, and maybe here we will get the best actual look at the former overall #62 pick in the NFL Draft and Eastern Illinois University product—the same college where Saints HC Payton was once a QB (1983-1986) and roamed the quaint Charleston campus, probably having a beer or four at Marty’s. So 6-2, 22-pound Franklin Park, IL product should get some valuable and relevant Playing Time here, especially in the context of the reality now that Brady will definitely be missing the first four games of the season this time around. Rookie Jacoby Brissett (North Carolina State, 6-4, 235) should also get his fair share of snaps and minutes, with his importance increasing with the 4-game suspension accepted and the possibility of an Injury to Brady’s backup Garoppolo always a brutal possibility in the rugged NFL.

Along with WRs Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola—both currently out Injured—Keshawn Martin, Nate Washington, DeAndre Carter, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Chris Hogan, Matthew Slater, Rookie Devin Lucien (Arizona State) and Rookie Malcolm Mitchell (Georgia) will all be fighting for Patriots Roster spots while at the Tight End position, New England is also now looking pretty deep with All-Pro Rob Gronkowski, new acquiree Martellus Bennett (Bears) and Michael Williams the first three on the Depth Chart with four other TE’s in camp—including two Rookies—trying to impress and maybe make a name and possibly land on another team before the NFL Regular Season kicks off. Patriots (4/1 to win AFC, Ladbrokes) Head Coach Belichick has been gushing at the depth at several positions on his Roster this Preseason, and now he will get to see who has what on the playing field with his four biggest Offensive players—Brady, Gronkowski, Edelman, Amendola—all likely enjoying their primary roles here as spectators.

 

Final Thoughts: Site Matters Most Sometimes and This May Be One of Those Times...
Last year when these two played in the Preseason (Week 2) down in The Big Easy, the Saints jumped out to 15-0 1st Quarter and 21-7 Halftime leads before seeing the visiting Patriots rally for 19 2nd Half points to win the game, 26-24. In that meeting, Brady (2/5, 13 yards) saw just one possession with Garoppolo going the rest of the way for the then, defending AFC champions and doing so-so, completing 28 of 33 Passes for 269 Yards with 1 TD and an Interception with a 98.1 QBR. For New Orleans, Brees (5-10, 159 yards, 2 TDs), Ryan Griffin (6-8, 85 yards), Grayson (7-13, 80 yards) and McNown (4-6, 49 yards, TD) all played in last year’s Preseason meeting, so whomever Payton gives the snaps to here in Foxborough will be familiar with the foe, especially this being the second straight year of this relationship with the two teams practicing together. So if the Saints want to risk Brees and play him more, with he, McCown and Grayson, the visitors may actually have the edge at the QB spot here with Brady said to miss and the New England 3rd-stringer (Brissett) a Rookie. This might end up being good for the Under.

Also in that Preseason meeting last year, New Orleans WR Brandin Cooks had a very good game  (4 receptions, 110 yards, TD), making do of all 4 times he was Targeted by Saints QB’s, although he is listed Probable here and may be treated with kid gloves. And most of the players who had Receptions for the Patriots in this game last year outside of Chris Harper (5 receptions, 69 yards, TD) won’t even be playing here, so this will truly be a proving ground for most of the Patriots WRs and TEs with Garoppolo likely being the QB for the majority of NE’s snaps.

In the Preseason last year, the Patriots went 2-2 SU and saw three of their Preseason games end with 33 points or less (33, 50, 17, 21). And as you can see, that one high-scoring affair was when they played the Saints. New Orleans went an embarrassing 0-4 SU last Preseason and played in four high-scoring games (57, 50, 40, 48 points) against four pretty good teams (Ravens, Patriots, Texas, Packers). So with an average of 48.75 ppg in four Preseason games, it’s hard to recommend the Under here even with both HC’s used to throwing the football a lot and the game being so meaningless. With a 5-game SU Preseason losing streak for New Orleans and the game at Gillette Stadium, the NFL pick here is for the Patriots on the Money Line (-185, 5Dimes) with Garoppolo shining somewhat on Thursday night in suburban Boston in front of his fellow EIU alum, Saints HC Sean Payton.

 

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Patriots 23 Saints 20
NFL HALL OF FAME GAME PICK: Patriots -185 at 5Dimes
NFL FUTURES BOOK PICK: New England Patriots to win AFC 4/1 at Ladbrokes
2016/17 NFL PICKS RECORD: 0-0-0

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