It just seems that things are working against the New Orleans Saints this year.
Injuries have proved crippling with the loss of their top two offensive players, quarterback Jameis Winston for the year and Alvin Kamara week-to-week which has run for most of the season. It is rare that a Seah Payton coached team has been outclassed on the field as dramatically as his Saints have the past two weeks. Of course, we have to take into account that Payton is coaching his first season without Drew Brees running his offense.
New Orleans seemed to be competitive without Brees and with Winston, but now that Winston is gone too, they have dropped like an anchor in calm seas. Brees to Winston they seemed to overcome, Brees to Winston to Trevor Siemian has proven to be more challenging.
The defense played a key role in keeping the Saints competitive through the first half of the season, weeks in which New Orleans won five of seven games beginning with an opening day blowout victory over the Green Bay Packers, 38-3. That quick start was derailed with the loss of Winston. New Orleans has lost four straight games since he went down during their last victory, a conquest over the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 36-27.
With Siemian running an offense without the explosiveness of Kamara working out of the backfield, the Saints offense has been anemic. A pair of close losses to the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans have been followed by beatdowns administered by the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills, 40-29 and 31-6 respectively.
Their bad luck came before they played the Bills, that being when Buffalo was crushed at home by the Indianapolis Colts, 41-15. The defeat brought the Bills into the Big Easy with an attitude to atone for their prior week loss, and they did it, as many very good teams will do, convincingly.
The Saints were just unfortunate to be on the receiving end of their wrath.
In a rare Thursday night matchup, both teams come into tonight’s contest off a full week’s rest. Both the visitors tonight, the Dallas Cowboys, and home standing Saints played on Thanksgiving. Problem for the Saints is that another good team is coming to the Superdome off a loss, in the Cowboys case, two straight losses.
The Cowboys have now lost three of four games, earning a home win over the Atlanta Falcons, 43-3, after a home loss to the Denver Broncos and setbacks to the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders the past two weeks.
Even though the Cowboys are scuffling around after a quick start to their season, they still maintain a two game lead in the NFC East Division. Last year, Washington won this division with a losing record, and this season the Cowboys are the only team in the NFC East with a winning mark. Without a competitive division race, a team that is having problems will often find it difficult to hit a sprocket to boost their performance.
To bend towards the Cowboys tonight is to totally disregard the home team’s propensity to do well as a bet-against home underdog following a lopsided home loss. Dallas is now favored by 6½ points, and it is tough to make a good pick out of a bad line.
In other words, I don’t like the Saints tonight, but I don’t have to like something to have it pay. In fact, sometimes the plays that scare you most, are the very best to weigh in on.
Qoxhi Picks: New Orleans Saints (+6½) over Dallas Cowboys