Saints vs. Patriots Odds, Picks, NFL Sunday Predictions: The Betting Edge For This Week 3 Matchup
Mike Comer/Getty Images. Pictured: Jameis Winston
- Looking for Saints vs. Pats odds? We've outlined the spread and over/under in our preview for this NFL Week 3 matchup.
- Our analyst details how to find betting value on Saints vs. Patriots, despite the odds having moved.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
The Saints will play their third straight game away from New Orleans on Sunday when they take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. It’s certainly been a tumultuous start to the season for the Who Dats after Hurricane Ida forced them to temporarily relocate while the rebuild in Louisiana gets underway.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Saints had a COVID-19 outbreak among the coaching staff last week, leaving them without seven assistants against the Panthers in a game the Saints looked ill-prepared for. This week, they’re being slighted by bookmakers as 3-point underdogs against a rookie quarterback making just his third professional start.
Lookahead odds for this game had the Patriots as 1-point favorites. We also saw the total move from 45.5 to 43 points. At this point, it’s difficult for me to bet these numbers after the value has already been extracted, but if you stick around, I have an idea of how to get involved — even if the lines have moved against you.
The Saints’ Offensive Style
New Orleans has been involved in two reasonably lopsided games to start the season.
First, the Saints defeated the Packers, 38-3, despite only 148 passing yards from quarterback Jameis Winston. Next up was the game in Carolina in which they were without multiple coaches and lost 26-7. Even if you don’t think that second score is that lopsided, New Orleans finished with just 128 total yards. I had to do a double-take myself because I’ve seen more yardage in a Saturday morning pop-warner game.
Winston went from a 91.9 Adjusted QBR in the first game to 21.6 in the second game. He threw two interceptions against the Panthers, but what’s even more surprising is that the Saints didn’t enter the red zone the entire game. And no matter whether the Saints won big or lost big, Winston hasn’t had more than 22 pass attempts in either outing. In 2019, his final year with the Buccaneers, he had only three games the entire season with fewer than 30 pass attempts. This year, he’s one shy of reaching that mark two games into the season, and New Orleans has a league-low 115.5 passing yards per game.
According to TeamRankings, the Saints are running the ball 54.37% of the time, the second-highest mark in the league behind the Ravens. The Saints have also struggled to generate explosive plays through the passing game. Per Sharp Football Stats, New Orleans has just three explosive pass plays, and it’s second-to-last with a total of 47 yards on those completed plays.
The big takeaway is that head coach Sean Payton has essentially put the training wheels on Winston. Payton is not going to let Winston sling the ball all over the field and commit the unforced errors we’ve seen from him in the past. The data suggests that the Saints are playing a very deliberate, methodical style of football on offense. I don’t expect that to change in Week 3 with Winston coming off a poor performance.
The Patriots’ Red-Zone Issues
New England could easily be 2-0 on the season if not for a fourth-quarter fumble by Damien Harris on the nine-yard line in the red zone. Instead, the Patriots have to settle for a 1-1 record despite getting excellent play from their rookie quarterback, Mac Jones.
Jones has completed 51-of-69 passes for a 73.9% completion rate, and he’s yet to throw an interception in his two games. If you don’t think coaching can make a difference for a quarterback in this league, think again. The other two rookie signal callers — Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson — have thrown five interceptions already.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick isn’t going to destroy his young quarterback’s confidence after just a few games. Instead, he’ll look to build up his confidence by not giving him too much too soon at this stage in his career.
However, of all the quarterbacks who have started two games and logged at least 30 pass attempts, Jones’ 3.1 intended air yards per pass is the lowest in the league. That tells me that a high percentage of his completions are simply checkdowns. If New England creates an explosive pass play, it’s more likely to be from yards after the catch (YAC) rather than a vertical pass from Jones.
As a result, the Patriots have taken a more reserved approach by having Jones manage the game and not do too much beyond his means. But taking fewer risks could be the reason New England is last in league with a red-zone touchdown conversion rate of just 28.57%. That’s problematic for a team ranked 23rd in total yards per game (326.5) and 25th in passing yards per game (213.5).
These red-zone struggles date back to the 2020 season, when the Patriots finished 24th in touchdown conversion (54.17%). From a betting perspective, that helps explain why New England’s last 15 games are 11-3-1 to the under for 7.44 units and a 49.6% ROI.
No team has run fewer plays this season than the Saints (51.5). They’re also last with 225 total yards per game. Defensively, the Saints and Patriots are in the top 10 in yards allowed with fewer than 306 per game. They’re also in the top 10 for allowing their opponents fewer than 2.5 red-zone trips per game.
Both teams are already a combined 4-0 to the under this season, so here’s a quick recap of some of the factors that led to that run:
- New Orleans has run the fewest plays in the league.
- Both coaches seem to discourage their quarterbacks from taking risks down the field.
- Both defenses are in the top 10 in yards allowed.
- One quarterback has yet to throw the ball more than 22 times this season.
All signs point to this game going under the total.
Both teams are a combined 16-5-1 to the under in their last 22 games for 10.21 units, according to our Action Labs data:
However, I am hesitant to get involved after missing the best of the number at 45.5. That notwithstanding, I don’t see how either team puts up a ton of points based on what they’ve put on film so far. Although I have a solid lean to the under at 43, I’m going to eschew the advice of my colleague Danny Donahue and play this under as part of a two-leg, six-point teaser.
If you’re a traditionalist like Danny, then look away.
I can’t pass on an under of 49, no matter how many cardinal rules I’m breaking. I love the idea of combining that play with the Cardinals at -7 and teasing them to -1.
Pick: 2-leg, 6-point teaser with Saints-Patriots under 49 & Cardinals -1