Is It Safe to Bet on The New Orleans Saints?

October 29, 2020

The New Orleans Saints have been one of the better football teams in the last few years, largely because of their quarterback, Drew Brees. Having guys like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to work with made his job easier, as did their defense.

But success in the NFL often depends on the quarterback. While Brees has been one of the best, there is a growing perception that his game is slipping because his arm strength is not what it used to be.

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Why do people think his arm is lacking? Because he has the lowest average air yards per attempt in the league (5.80/att.) through Week Seven. Only Alex Smith had a lower average (5.58 ay/att) when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2014 (going back to 2006).

It is not just because of that, though. The Saints rarely even have him throw the ball downfield. Only 3.3 percent of Brees’ pass attempts have been for 20+ air yards. That is the lowest mark for any quarterback dating back to 2006 when ESPN first started recording data on air yards.

Why does all of this matter?

Because with the importance a quarterback has in the overall play of a team and its playoff chances, if Brees is losing his game, then the Saints are a bad bet to win the division, make the playoffs, win the NFC Championship, and of course the Super Bowl.

So, is that the case? Are the Saints a bad team to bet on this season, or is it safe to bet on them?

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Is Drew Brees Holding the New Orleans Saints Back?

Since the Saints do not seem to have much of a vertical passing game anymore, in theory, the answer to the question could be yes. If defenses do not have to be too concerned about him throwing the ball deep, more defenders can play closer to the line.

Consequently, they will be better positioned to stop the run and keep receivers from taking short passes and turning them into long gains.

If that theory holds, you could say that Drew Brees and his weak arm do hold the Saints back. When you look at how well the Saints played to start the season, that would appear to be true.

While they beat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week One, the defense deserves more credit than the offense (which only generated 271 total yards of offense). But then they followed that game up with losses to the Las Vegas Raiders and Green Bay Packers.

No team with playoff aspirations wants to start the season 1-2, but the Saints have. However, slow starts happen to be par for the course when it comes to the Saints. They lost one of their first three games last year and in 2018. Their wins, however, were all by six points or less. In 2017, they started 1-2 just like this year.

But in each season, they won at least 11 games (13 in the last two seasons) and won the division. In ’17, they made it to the divisional round before losing an incredible game to the Vikings. The following year, they lost in the NFC title game in controversial fashion. Last year, they lost to the Vikings again, but this time in the wild card round.

As for Brees, while he may not be throwing the ball deep anymore, he is still getting the job done. He finished the season with either the highest or second-highest rating in the league in the last three years. This year, through six games, he ranks eighth with a 105.8 rating.

Drew Brees may never throw for over 5000+ yards again, but it safe to say that he is not holding the Saints back.

Is It Safe To Bet On Drew Brees And The New Orleans Saints?

Betting Play: Take the Saints to make the playoffs (-305; odds via DraftKings) win the NFC South (+125), and the NFC Conference (+600). But do not bank on them winning the Super Bowl (+1400).

Not throwing the ball deep could signify that the 41-year old Brees is starting to lose his edge. But it could also be because he has not had his best wide receiver, Michael Thomas, for much of the season. Without Thomas to lean on, Brees has been using his running back, Alvin Kamara, a lot more.

With Kamara’s unique ability to make people miss, Brees does not need to throw deep. He just needs to get it to Kamara in relatively open space. That way, Kamara will have the chance to make someone miss and turn a short pass into a long gain.

If defenses cannot stop them, Brees and the Saints have no reason to do anything different. When Michael Thomas returns to the lineup, the offense will be even better.

So—is it safe to bet on the New Orleans Saints? Absolutely.

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