Betting markets reacted quickly to early-week news that New Orleans Saints’ star quarterback Drew Brees would miss several weeks with ligament damage in his right hand. New Orleans had been favorites to win the NFC and a top three choice on the futures board to win the Super Bowl with Brees. Now?
It could be worse. Because Brees is expected to return for the stretch run, the Saints have fallen to a global composite of 7/1 to win the NFC…comparable to undefeated Dallas and Green Bay, but behind new leader the Los Angeles Rams at 3/1. New Orleans is 14/1 to win the Super Bowl, trailing favored New England at 3/1.
Compare that to Pittsburgh. The Steelers fell all the way to 30/1 to win the AFC and 60/1 to win the Super Bowl when Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out for the season with an elbow injury hours later. Betting markets don’t see Mason Rudolph rallying the Steelers from an 0-2 start into the championship discussion. Teddy Bridgewater and/or Taysom Hill have are expected to help the 1-1 Saints tread water until Brees returns.
If the Saints are .500 when he gets back…or within arm’s reach…they will be power rated to reach the postseason. In the playoffs, anything can happen with this talented team.
For now, we know short-handed New Orleans is power rated below Seattle based on market prices for their Sunday meeting (CBS, 3:25 p.m.). Home field is generally worth three points in the NFL, maybe 3.5 at Seattle’s sonic home site. Any margin above what you see in the current point spread represents how much the Saints “with Bridgewater” trail the Seahawks on a neutral site assessment.
To give you some context, Seattle is currently 12/1 to win the NFC offshore, 25/1 to win the Super Bowl. Think of the Saints as Super Bowl material with Brees, but more like a 7-9 or 8-8 type team with its current quarterbacks.
VSiN will keep you posted on market developments for the Saints throughout this pending challenge
▪ We usually focus on college football every Thursday…then the NFL every Saturday in these special reports. Obviously the Brees injury became the most important sports betting story of the week. When we return Saturday, VSiN will provide an in-depth preview of #3 Georgia’s huge prime-time home game against #7 Notre Dame, and get caught up with SEC cohorts Ole Miss and Mississippi State (who both missed their point spreads by double digits last week). Also, a look at Southern Miss’s big win at Troy.
▪ Elsewhere in the NFL, another backup quarterback will be trying to get a win Thursday night when cult sensation Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Tennessee Titans (NFL Network, 7:20 p.m.). This one could close near pick-em after the Jags impressed bettors with a late touchdown in a hard-fought 13-12 loss at Houston as a touchdown underdog. Tennessee (-3) lost Sunday at home 19-17 to Indianapolis and its new franchise QB Jacoby Brissett.
▪ The Miami Dolphins continue to be a major story for the wrong reasons. Miami might be the worst pro football team in many years. Though final scores can be misleading (the Dolphins lost by scores of 59-10 and 43-0, missing their already-pessimistic point spreads by 42 and 25 points), raw game stats usually aren’t. Miami was outgained by Baltimore 643-200 on 8.8 to 4.3 yards-per-play in its season opener. Then, by half-speed New England 381-184 on 5.9 to 3.0 yards-per-play. That’s minus 640 yards in two home games.
No break this week. Miami will likely close around a three-touchdown underdog Sunday at Dallas as oddsmakers and bettors try to pin down how bad this team really is. Current market ratings suggest Miami’s best opportunities to avoid an 0-16 season will come in home games vs. Washington (October 13), the New York Jets (November 3), and Cincinnati (December 22).
▪ VSiN hasn’t had a chance to update baseball’s championship chase amidst the recent football flurry. Let’s remedy that. An offshore composite shows that the “big three” of the Houston Astros (2/1), the Los Angeles Dodgers (13/5), and the New York Yankees (4/1) continue to be front runners to win the World Series. The surprisingly strong Atlanta Braves are well-positioned to challenge Dodger Blue in the senior circuit, which has them knocking on the door at 7/1 to throw a parade.
Still plenty of drama left in the wildcard races (plus the NL Central). Oddsmakers will be challenged to defend against the public’s tendency to ride “must-win” teams in the final days of the regular season. How high will those late-September money lines go?