Past Expert Picks
The Saints' offense struggled in Week 1, but that was against a top-tier Buccaneers defense. Tampa Bay returned 10 of 11 starters from a unit that finished sixth in overall efficiency last season, first against the run. The going will be easier against the Raiders, even without Michael Thomas. Lay it as the Saints improve to 5-0 ATS in their last five as road favorites.
New Orleans @ Las Vegas | 09/22 | 12:15 AM UTC
Las Vegas +5.5
Though the seats will be empty at Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders surely will be amped for their coming-out party in Sin City. Not to be overlooked in Tom Brady’s shaky debut against New Orleans was Drew Brees’ spotty performance. The Saints’ average of 4.2 yards per snap is second-lowest in the league. Age may be catching up, and Brees will miss peerless WR Michael Thomas (ankle). RB Alvin Kamara (1.3 yards per carry) struggled on the ground against the Bucs.
The Saints typically struggle early in the year, with last week's win over the Bucs the first time they've covered in the opener since 2013 and with only one cover in Week 2 since 2011. But this is a terrible matchup for a Raiders offense that wants to run the ball above all else. The Saints D did a great job against the Tampa Bay offense in Week 1, and you only have to look to last year to see why a run-focused team can have issues with them; New Orleans had the second-fewest rush attempts and third-most pass attempts allowed. That is not how the Raiders, a team that had 31 rushes vs. 30 pass attempts last week, want to play.
I didn't think I was going to have a play on this game, but the market has moved this back into a spot that offers value at -4. While I respect the market, I respect my data more than anything else. Without Michael Thomas, I make the Saints -5.9 points better on the "road" in Las Vegas. It would be -4.7 under normal conditions. Look for Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill and company to cover this number at -4.
This Monday Night Football matchup ultimately will come down to defense, so which one can you trust the most? The Saints were able to frustrate Tom Brady and a Tampa Bay offense that is loaded with weapons, forcing multiple turnovers as well as scoring on defense. Las Vegas' defense is young and trying to come together as a unit. Look for New Orleans' defense to stymie the Raiders' offense, making it tough for the home team to slow down Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and company.
With the spread coming down 1.5 points ahead of Monday Night Football, we have some nice value on a Saints team here that was also favored by 4 one week ago when it beat the Bucs and Tom Brady by 11. In case you didn't notice, these are the Raiders and Derek Carr. That's not to say Las Vegas is "bad" by any means, but I'm not giving it any extra credit for opening an empty stadium. New Orleans' defense continuously gets underrated, as does its weapons outside of Michael Thomas, who will miss the game. The Saints will get Emmanuel Sanders heavily in the mix and have Alvin Kamara catch a ton of passes out of the backfield. The line was right at 5.5, which means there's plenty of value at 4 for a top contender to win the NFC.
The Raiders have no defense. Alvin Kamara is going to have a huge game both as a runner and receiver. The Saints' defense just shut down Tom Brady and they're going to show up big here too. Lay the points.
The Raiders will open their new stadium with no fans, and that plays right into the Saints’ hands. They are no strangers to domes or Monday Night Football. The Saints are clearly the better team despite missing their most dominant player, Michael Thomas. Drew Brees has plenty of weapons and you can expect a huge night from Alvin Kamara. The New Orleans defense is very underrated. The unit forced Tom Brady into two interceptions and sacked him three times. Look for the Saints to force Derek Carr into a couple of picks and maybe a forced fumble. Carr looked decent last week but played against a weak Panthers defense.