Drew Brees enter the 2016 regular season with a fresh, new contract in hand. The New Orleans Saints recently signed the long-time Saint to a contract worth $44 million in total guarantees, including a $30 million signing bonus. You may want to criticize the merits of signing a 37-year old quarterback to a two-year extension for that kind of money. But after you start looking around the league at the quality of quarterbacks that are available to sign, it might make a bit more sense here.
The answer is that they aren’t many options out there that are going to be worth bringing in to New Orleans. And let’s be honest, Brees is still one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. The Saints recent struggles are not due to Drew Brees. Has he slowed down since they won the Super Bowl? Sure, yeah he has. Despite that though, Brees is still better than half of the quarterbacks starting in the league right now.
The Saints open the season at home in the Superdome, a place which was virtually impossible to win in for visitors. In the last couple of years though, the Superdome has turned into a very beatable venue. It doesn’t matter, if your defense is going to allow an average of more than 30 points a game, the crowd isn’t going to have much of an impact. Defense has been the main problem with the Saints, and it resulted in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan getting the yank this past offseason. The offense hasn’t been as prolific, it’s been pretty evident, but there comes a point where the defense has to make some plays. They haven’t had a durable defensive unit since that Super Bowl win against the Colts.
While the Saints are the popular pick for being a team heading to the garbage dumpster, the Raiders are being picked up and put on a pedestal. The Raiders don’t know where they’re going to be playing in the future, whether it be Las Vegas, staying in Oakland, or someplace else. However, the future of the team is looking good, and everything goes according to play they should be a competitor. The Raiders have also been a flashy pick to win the AFC West.
I still have them behind the Broncos and Chiefs, though. Nevertheless, they will be an improved team, and should continue to improve in the coming years. David Carr was a massive bust in the NFL but his brother, Derek Carr, looks like he’s going to be a budding star. He’s a guy that is part of the youth movement in the NFL. In just his second-year at the controls he had a coming out party. I keep hearing that Derek Carr is going to have a breakout year. Yeah, newsflash, Carr threw for 32 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions a year ago. Carr is already here. Let’s see if he can take a piece out of the porous New Orleans’ defense on Week 1.
Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints NFL Betting Odds:
vs. Saints -2 (110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Raiders vs. Saints Pick:
The Raiders went 7-9 in 2015 and anything less or the same would be a major disappointment. It can happen to teams, where they have all of the expectations in their world on their backs to improve, and they ultimately fall flat on their faces. The Raiders do not want to be the Buffalo Bills, who have been that team for the greater part of the last decade. The Raiders enter with a capable offense, with the Carr and Amari Cooper combination, turning into one the most potent combinations in the NFL. Cooper caught 72 balls for 1,070 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2015. Those numbers are expected to go up, especially the touchdown column this season. He did all that in his first season, so there are expectations that come with it now. I look for him to have a big 2016.
The idea in this game for the Raiders is to attack the weak Saints’ secondary. Roman Harper, who helped the Saints win the Super Bowl, is back but he isn’t at the same level. It’s Week 1 but the Saints will be entering with a banged up unit. Note that Paul Kruger, a natural outside linebacker, who comes over to New Orleans from Cleveland, is going to be playing defensive end. He has played d-end during his career, though. The Saints’ defense ranked dead last in the NFL. They were 31st against the pass and 31st against the run, while allowing 6.6 yards per play. 6.6 yards per play is what you might come to expect from a bad college defense, not in the NFL.
Has the defense made enough steps forward to be better? The most notable addition has been linebacker James Laurinaitis, after the Rams decided not to resign him. It’s a step in the right direction, but the holes are still noticeable holes in this defense. They will also be dealing with a new defensive coordinator. The Saint defense will make improvements, but they’re not going to be where they want to be.
Oakland beefed up their offensive line, with two quality signings in the offseason. They weren’t playing around, signing offensive guard Kelechi Osemele to a $60 million deal, as well as resigning left tackle Donald Penn. I see Derek Carr having plenty of time to sit back in the pocket and find his targets. However, I don’t think Drew Brees is going to go away quietly in this game. Brees is in the twilight of his career and is not one of those guys who will sit on a new contract and be content. The Raiders were 22nd in total team defense last season, including 26th against the pass. There should be ample opportunities for touchdowns in this game. The points should come in bunches in the Superdome.
PICK: OVER 51.5 POINTS (-110)