The Pick: Saints +1200 – $200.00 to win $2400.00
Risking 1 unit(s) to win 12 units
Record: 0-0-0, +/- $0.00
After following the NFL Super Bowl futures since they were released, into free agency and after the draft, I’m now confident enough to place my first wager. Typically, I avoid futures as their pitfalls are well-documented and they’re by no means a great way to become profitable. However, they also offer great entertainment value, longevity and the occasional mispricing. At +1200, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Saints are mispriced, but I believe they are the most attractively priced team in the NFC for a number of reasons. Let’s dig in.
The Saints’ offensive outlook for the 2020 season is bright as they return the vast majority of their starters from 2019, headlined by franchise QB Drew Brees. Remember, in 2019 this was an offense that ranked third in points scored, averaged 28.6 per game. What’s more impressive, is how they were able to achieve that feat with Drew Brees only playing in 11 games and Alvin Kamara at far less than 100%.
In addition to this, the Saints made several savvy additions to their offense during the offseason. First, let’s take a look at the Emmanuel Sanders signing. While some will criticize the numbers on this signing, as bettors, that has no impact on us. What we need to do is focus on whether or not it made the Saints’ offense better. The answer to that is unequivocally yes. Swapping out Ted Ginn for Emmanuel Sanders gives the Saints a bonafide #2 receiver who will reap the benefits of playing across from All-Pro Michael Thomas. Sanders is an exceptional route runner who can play both inside and out and fills a need the Saints have neglected for years. Second, the draft additions of Cesar Ruiz and Adam Trautman cannot be overlooked. I don’t expect Trautman to be much of a contributor early in the season but that’s okay. Incumbent Jared Cook provides the Saints with a very athletic pass-catching TE who can easily go for over 800 receiving yards on the season. If Trautman can improve steadily throughout the season and chip in here and there, that just gives Sean Payton another weapon. What about Ruiz? Selected 24th overall, Ruiz is an extremely athletic and versatile interior lineman who should be a meaningful contributor right out of the gate. Throw in the fact that the Saints already had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and Drew Brees should be very happy.
Perhaps the most reassuring thing about the Saints offense is that it’s captained by one of the greatest QB-Coach duo’s in NFL history.
Last season, the Saints boasted one of the league’s most underrated defenses. While they would have remained a Super Bowl contender without much change, the Saints decided they’d go one step further and make it better. The decision to retain Onyemata was key as he combines with Rankins and Brown to form what should be one of the best interior defensive fronts in the NFL. Then, in the NFL draft, the Saints were able to land the uber athletic Zack Baun from Wisconsin. I would have been happy with the pass rushing duo of Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport but the addition of Baun makes me even more excited to see how good this defense is. Atoning for past mistakes, the Saints also brought back Malcolm Jenkins to even further solidify their secondary. Jenkins will immediately step in as a starting safety and contribute both on the field and in the locker room. To me, this is a top 8 defense entering 2020.
An underrated but crucial part of any championship squad is special teams. In 2019, the Saints kicking duo was one of the best in the NFL and they both return in 2020. Kicker Will Lutz was selected to the Pro Bowl and punter Thomas Morstead has been one of the most consistent in the NFL in recent years. From a coverage standpoint, the Saints are very solid and re-signed Justin Hardy in the offseason, a key member of that unit. Most exciting of all, is All-Pro return man Deonte Harris. Harris exploded onto the scene last year as an undrafted rookie and showed tremendous vision with the ball in his hands.
I’m just going to plainly state that Sean Payton is one of the best coaches and play callers in the NFL. I don’t think there’s any question as to whether or not he, and the veteran leaders on this team will have these guys motivated to play come each Sunday.
Strength of Schedule
The Saints will absolutely be battle-tested as they head into the playoffs in 2020. Their schedule features games against some of the best teams in the NFL as they play the Chiefs, 49ers and Bucs (2x). For context, those are 3 of the top 4 Super Bowl favorites as pegged by oddsmakers. With the new NFL playoff format only awarding the top team in each conference a bye, the Saints will need to make the most of home games against the Packers, 49ers, Vikings and Bucs. Fortunately for the Saints, they are (and have been) one of the best home teams in the NFL for quite some time. A deceivingly tough and important stretch arises from weeks 12 – 14, where the Saints play 3 consecutive road games at Denver, Atlanta and Philadelphia, in order. These contests will play a major role in deciding the Saints playoff seeding and they match up very well against each of those squads.
I’m a believer that professional sports loves a narrative. In my opinion, Drew Brees winning his second Super Bowl and riding off into the sunset is at the top of the list for this year. There’s no doubt in my mind that this team wants to rally around the future hall of famer and do everything in their power to get him a second ring. For what it’s worth, I also think the league still feels a little indebted to the Saints after bending them over two years ago.
We can’t take a position in these types of bets and expect to hit at close to 50%. A lot of things need to happen and a lot of things can’t happen for the Saints to win Super Bowl 55. For the reasons stated above, and a few more, I think the Saints have their best team in years and subsequently their best shot at a title. At +1200, I’m comfortable taking a 2.0 unit shot on them to win 12 units.