Monday Night Football Preview
Saints -6 | Over/Under 53
We’re almost a quarter of the way through the season already as Monday Night Football approaches in week 5. This time we’ve been given a matchup of two NFC division leaders as the Washington Redskins head into New Orleans to take on the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It will be the 27th time the two teams have faced off with the Redskins having the 17-9 series lead. All of those previous encounters have been regular-season games since they’ve never met in postseason battle.
Redskins at Saints
Saints -6 | Over/Under 53
Washington Redskins (2-1)
The Philadelphia Eagles loss last weekend put Washington into sole ownership of the NFC East division lead as they come out of their bye week. A great opening month schedule has helped with wins over the Packers and the Cardinals offsetting their only loss against the Colts and the Redskins would like their chances of stealing another win here, having won four of the last six meetings between the two. But the last time they managed to win in New Orleans was in 2012. That day they won a shootout 40-32, in the NFL debut of Robert Griffin III.
Why They Will Win
Alex Smith should take deep shots as much as possible. This Saints defense ranks 30th against the pass in 2018, allowing 311 yards through the air each week. In 4 games, New Orleans have already allowed passes of 75 yards (for a touchdown), 58 yards (TD), 58 yards, 50 yards (TD), another 10+ of at least 20 yards, plus one 65 yarder that got nullified due to a penalty.
Smith is a renowned check down specialist, but he can also throw a nice ball downfield when the opportunity presents itself. Through 3 games, he’s got 9 passes of at least 20 yards himself. The ‘Skins have a pretty handy stable of receiving options and should target them as often as possible against a vulnerable Saints secondary.
And Why They Won’t
In a direct contrast to the team they will be facing, Washington boasts the third best-ranked pass defense but they will be up against one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. And speaking of “vulnerable secondaries”, the Redskins star cornerback Josh Norman is currently nursing a sore hamstring. If Norman is anything less than 100%, Michael Thomas could have him for lunch. Thomas and Brees have connected on an insane 42 of 44 targets for 445 yards through 4 games. At what point does he get checked for being a robot?
New Orleans Saints (3-1)
After dropping their season opener, the Saints have run off three solid wins to be top dogs in the NFC South. The ledger may read very heavily in Washington’s favor all-time as well as recently, but the Saints got the last one. It was week 11 of last season and Washington had come into New Orleans and beaten the Saints down for 3 ½ quarters. Then it was Drew Brees time. Staring at a 31-16 deficit with right around 6 minutes left in the game, Brees threw 11 of 11 for 164 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 2 pt conversion, on New Orleans’ final two possessions of the game. They then capped off the remarkable comeback thanks to a 28 yard Will Lutz field goal in overtime.
Why They Will Win
The New Orleans offensive unit is on another level this year. Led by Brees, Thomas, and Alvin Kamara, the Saints have been shredding defenses all year. They are averaging over 400 yards and are putting up 34.25 points per game so far. The kicker is, they haven’t even had their strongest team together yet. Mark Ingram II returns from his 4 game PED suspension, giving the team a power ground game they’ve yet to have in 2018. In the 2017 game I just mentioned, Ingram rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. That’s an average of 12.4 yards per attempt. His presence should open up the field even more for Brees to find his receiving threats.
And Why They Won’t
I spoke about the pass defense before, but now I’ll mention the run defense, which is actually pretty good, ranking 3rd in the NFL and allowing 79.5 yards a game. But on the other side of the ball is a rushing offense that averages 137.7 yards per game, good for 5th best in the league. Washington running back duo Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson have combined to average 191.3 all scrimmage yards a game. Not a bad result after the team lost its future franchise back in the preseason. New Orleans are going to have to get on top of that battle early, and force Smith into passing situations. Despite what I said earlier, if the defense can force Washington into those spots, they’ll have an easier time identifying when to play the pass and might have more success than previous weeks. But that’s easier said than done.
The Saints defensive end and 3-time pro bowler. Cameron Jordan has already had a pair of games this year where he’s recorded 2 sacks, and he had another 2 sack game in that 2017 overtime win. But he will be coming up against Redskins left tackle and 6-time pro bowler, Trent Williams. Williams had a minor knee procedure during the week but told reporters (in a roundabout way) that he’ll be playing on Monday. It will be one of the best matchups of the week.
I’m looking forward to this game. It sees two of the NFL’s best teams, in the early stages, going toe to toe in a potential playoff preview. There are weapons and stars all over the field but it’s hard to see Washington overcoming a loud Superdome crowd to get the job done.
Final: New Orleans 31, Washington 26
Monday Night Football Betting Tips
All of the odds and prop bets I write about in this piece will be sourced from there. They have a bunch of great contests, bonus and NFL specials to sink your teeth into. If you haven’t before, check them out now.
The Saints opened as favorites over Washington by about a touchdown, but the line has shortened as we approach game day. The ‘Skins are 2-1 ATS in their 3 games, matching their record. While the Saints are 2-2. Additionally, Washington has covered the spread in its last 5 games against the Saints and they have also covered in the last 5 in New Orleans.
Total Points Over/Under
I tend to lean towards the over in every Saints game. They’ve scored at least 27 points in every game so far this year and broken 40 points in 2 of the 4. The Redskins can go either way. In wins they have averaged 27.5 points, including hanging 31 points on the Packers the week before the bye. But in their only loss, they struggled against the Colts, finishing with just the 6 points. The Saints defense is made for big scores though it seems, so I still like the over.
Redskins +6 (-115), Total Points Over 53
Here are a couple of my favorite prop bets of the week.
- Longest Touchdown: Over 47.5 yards (-115) – This is the 3rd straight week I’m trying the over for longest touchdown. This one is an even shorter 47.5 yard line. Just go back up and read about all the long TD’s that the Saints secondary have given up this year already.
- Player to Score a Touchdown: Mark Ingram (+100) – I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest mark Ingram has a fire in his belly. He’s got a bit to make up for following the suspension and I’d suggest that Brees will be eager to get his old running mate into the offense. So I like him to score at least once. He’s also paying +850 to score the first of the game.
Daniel is an up and coming writer and longtime lover of the NFL. Even though he is Australian, he is a long-suffering Philly Eagles fan and has played Fantasy Football for over 10 years. Since the early games kick off around 4am Monday morning in Australia, he will regularly be found on the couch, with a large coffee in hand and watching Redzone through bleary eyes. Daniel married the love of his life in 2012, and the couple are happily raising twin boys (also as Eagles fans, hopefully).