Today's Free Picks for
Posted Friday at 2:15 PM EST.
1:00 PM EST. The Saints played on Monday night and the entire country watched, as their poor defense was torched again and ended up being the reason that Sam Bradford was named Week 1’s offensive player of the week. That’s not all the negatives, as it was not pretty. Not pretty at all. The Saints appear to have three starting-quality running backs and are giving each 1/3 of the workload. Adrian Peterson (6-18) looked embarrassed to have such minimal playing time against his old team. Mark Ingram (6-17) wondered what happened to his 1,000-yard season last year while Alvin Kamara (7-18) just wants these old guys to get out of his way. The 29-19 loss to the Vikes on Monday night was a flattering score to the Saints. The biggest overreactions are always to prime time games and that applies here. The Saints figure to be better but what really sticks out to us is that the market is ignoring the Patriots poor performance, also in a prime time game.
When talking about aging quarterbacks, 40-year old Tom Brady has largely been left out of the conversation but that cannot be the case any longer. Over the last two games, the Patriots have been in a position to be blown out and the only thing that saved them in the Super Bowl was the complete meltdown by the Falcons coaching staff who couldn't figure out you should run the ball and kill the clock with a big lead. By continuing to pass the ball in the 4th quarter, the Falcons opened a window and Tom Brady kicked the door down. For three quarters the Super Bowl, Brady and Belichick looked bewildered and lost. Don’t forget that.
In Week 1, the Patriots never got that chance to comeback, as the Chiefs brought down the hammer by keeping the ball on the ground in a 42-27 victory. While Brady gets all the credit for the Super Bowl comeback, he could not have done it without receiver Julian Edelman, who was severely missed in Week 1 after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. Against the Chiefs, Brady was missing receivers left and right and only managed to complete 16 of 36 passes with no touchdowns while taking three sacks. The Patriots were gifted at least 10 points in that game too. New England's biggest weakness coming into this season was their inability to cover an opposing team's top receiving threat. The high-priced signing of Stephon Gilmore was supposed be address that issue and be a game changer but it wasn’t, as Gilmore was burned for a touchdown the first time he was challenged by Alex Smith. New England made the pedestrian Smith look like an All-Pro after allowing 352 yards in the air. Don’t forget that either. Smith may never throw for 352 yards again, ever. Rookie runner Kareem Hunt had one of the best debuts in recent memory and added 148 yards on the ground and another 98 in the air by catching 5-of-5 passes. Don’t forget that.
We've heard the case for the Pats this week. They “rarely lose two games in a row” and “Tom Brady can't be as bad as he was in Week 1” are among the talking points. Even after a brutal loss, the Patriots still get the benefit of the doubt. It should actually be two brutal losses in succession. Five rings and a “genius” coach will buy some big time slack in this market, which provides us with this great opportunity. Asking any team in the NFL to cover a touchdown or more on the road is a tall task especially for a defense that looked as bad as New England's did in Week 1. Maybe the Pats bounce like they’ve been doing for such a long time but even Hall of Fame QB’s reach the end of the line and frankly speaking, other than their history, there is nothing to like about the Patriots spotting a significant margin on the road this week.
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NEW ORLEANS +6 -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)