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NFL Picks: Saints Given Wins Total of 7 For 2016 Season

By Matthew Jordan

The New Orleans Saints have failed to make the playoffs the past two seasons, finishing 7-9 in each of them. Oddsmakers expect something similar this season as the Saints are given a wins total of 7 on NFL picks, with the under a slight betting favorite.

Did Saints Fail Their Offseason Grade?

Most experts didn’t give the Saints a very good offseason grade. The team’s biggest losses were tight end Benjamin Watson, guard Jahri Evans, receiver Marques Colston and cornerback Brandon Browner. Many think the Saints vastly overpaid in signing former Colts tight end Coby Fleener to a five-year deal worth $36 million to replace Watson, who had 74 catches for 825 yards and six scores in a career-best 2015 season. He’s now with Baltimore.
Fleener isn’t a strong blocker and has never caught more than 54 passes in a season or had more than 800 yards receiving despite playing most of the time with Andrew Luck in a pass-happy offense. The Saints were also interested in former Chargers tight end Ladarius Green, but the Pittsburgh Steelers got him. The Saints have proven they can plug a lot of tight ends into this offense and produce big numbers with Drew Brees throwing to him.

New Orleans had one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season and badly was hoping to sign Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman when he surprisingly became a free agent after the Carolina Panthers rescinded his franchise tag, but Norman visited the Washington Redskins first and they wouldn’t let him out of the building until he signed a contract. The Saints did add free-agent defensive tackle Nick Fairley and linebacker James Laurinaitis, both formerly of the Rams. And first-round pick Sheldon Rankins, a defensive tackle from Louisville, should play from Day 1. He has drawn comparisons to Rams Pro Bowler Aaron Donald.

The Saints are +750 on NFL picks to win the NFC South, behind reigning champion Carolina (-220), which obviously will miss Norman, and Atlanta (+550). Tampa Bay is the +800 long shot in the division. That an NFC North team wins Super Bowl LI in Houston is +700. That New Orleans finishes with the NFL’s worst record is +1200 on NFL picks. To little surprise, the Cleveland Browns are the +400 favorites on that prop.

For total points scored this year, the Saints are given a total of 405.5 on NFL picks. That’s an average of just over 25.3 points per game. New Orleans scored 408 points last year. The franchise record is 547 in 2011 when the Saints won the South but lost in the divisional playoffs in San Francisco. That the Saints are the NFL’s highest-scoring team is +3300. The favorites there are Carolina and Seattle at +700 on NFL picks.

You already can bet on Week 1 games on NFL picks and the Saints are 1.5-point favorites against the visiting Oakland Raiders on Sept. 11. Oddsmakers expect that to be one of the highest-scoring games of the first week as it has a total of 51 that’s the biggest number on the board. New Orleans has won the past three meetings — and covered the NFL betting spread — with the Raiders. Most recently it was Nov. 18, 2012, a 38-17 victory in Oakland. Brees threw for 219 yards and three scores that day, two of them to Lance Moore. This year’s Raiders are much better than that team was and are considered a rising power in the AFC. It could also be the team’s final season in the city of Oakland as it could move to Los Angeles or Las Vegas if the Oakland won’t agree to build the team a stadium.

Individual Props

To win the regular-season NFL MVP Award, Brees is at +2500 on NFL picks. He has yet to win that in his Hall of Fame career. That still seems hard to believe considering Brees has four 5,000-yard seasons in his Saints career. He threw for 4,870 yards and 32 scores in 2015 despite missing his first game as a Saint due to injury.

There are three favorites on NFL picks to win MVP at +700: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, a two-time winner of the award, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Carolina’s Cam Newton, last year’s winner. Brees is given a passing yardage total of 4,835.5 for the season. He hasn’t finished below that total since 2010 when he had 4,620.

For NFL Coach of the Year, Sean Payton is +4000 on NFL picks, which is the middle of the pack. Payton won that award back in 2006. This year’s favorites are Carolina’s Ron Rivera, who took the award last year, and Arizona’s Bruce Arians at +600.

Saints 2016 second-round pick Michael Thomas, a receiver out of Ohio State, is +4000 on NFL picks to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. The favorite is Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott at +110.

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