New Orleans Saints (6-1 SU, 5-2 ATS)
We all knew that with Drew Brees pulling the trigger, piling up points is about as inevitable as the sun rising but what has surprised is the remarkable turnaround in the defense. New Orleans brought in defensive guru Rob Ryan to plug the leaks in a porous Saints defense and the results have been impressive.
Let’s take a look at what Ryan has done this season. The Saints boast the 4th ranked defense in terms of points allowed, surrendering just 17.1 per game. That quantum leap has been propelled by a solid defensive pass unit that has amassed 24 sacks (ranked 8th) and nine interceptions (ranked 10th) while allowing 222 yards through the air (ranked 9th).
Though the run stop unit has been mediocre it is far from abysmal and the ability to transition from a man-to-man to a zone cover when the situation dictates has allowed the Saints to keep opposition offenses off the field and Drew Brees on it. Offensively, the Saints have more weapons than a Swiss Army knife led by Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Marques Colston getting the bulk of Bress’ aerial attention while Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson and the oft-injured Mark Ingram carrying the load (along with Sproles) out of the backfield.
New York Jets (4-4 SU, 5-3 ATS)
If you asked the average Jets fan what he or she would think about a .500 record at the midpoint of the year prior to the season I think you would get a resounding –Hell, yeah! But it appears they’re doing it with smoke and mirrors, alternating wins and losses since the season began. In their last contest they were thoroughly blown out by the Bengals as they came off of a wildly whacky overtime win against the Patriots. Perhaps it was a case of Gang Green deflating after a huge win or maybe they are indeed that susceptible to a potent offensive attack.
If the latter is true, then they better be prepared for a withering assault from Drew Brees and company because the Saints are averaging 28 points per game which ranks them 5th in the NFL for points scored. This may spell big trouble for a team ranked 23rd in points allowed, surrendering an average of 26.4 which is an average comprised of opponents that are not nearly as potent as the one they will face on Sunday. Head coach Rex Ryan elected to rush just four defensive linemen against Andy Dalton last week who was more than happy to take advantage of the extra time and picked apart New York’s defensive secondary with five TD’s, four of which were taken into the endzone by unheralded receiver Marvin Jones. If Brees has that kind of time this week, it could get ugly very early.
I desperately want to go all contrarian and choose the Jets for my NFL pick. Isn’t that what a “sharp” would do? But being contrarian does not necessarily mean being sharp. The public is right from time to time and though there is a penchant out there amongst causal gamblers to lay it in on the favorite in NFL odds, it can sometimes be the only play to make.
I’m not sure how the Jets intend to stop Drew Brees. Certainly their defense has improved over last year but on the flipside of things, how does rookie Geno Smith deal with a swarming Saints pass rush? The answer in my estimation is that he can’t and the Jets will pay the price.
NFL Pick: New Orleans -6 at Bet365.com