The Saints (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) visit the Washington Football Team (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) in a Week 5 NFC showdown (1 p.m. ET, CBS), with oddsmakers pricing New Orleans as a short road favorite.
The Football Team is second in the NFC East, one game behind the 3-1 Dallas Cowboys. A loss Sunday wouldn’t spell doom, but they certainly don’t want Dallas’ gap atop the division to widen. The Saints also trail by a game in their division, as they’re looking up at both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers.
It’s been tricky for fans and bettors to get a handle on the Saints’ and Football Teams’ true identity and quality through four games. We’ll see what additional information is revealed throughout Sunday’s matchup between the two playoff-minded foes.
Through four weeks of action, neither the Saints nor the Football Team has established a consistent standard of play. Both teams have alternated wins and losses, showing flashes of brilliance one week before falling flat the next.
The lack of production from the Football Team’s respected defense has been the biggest head-scratcher. The unit that was supposed to terrorize quarterbacks has surrendered 30.5 points per game, third-most in the league.
There is reason for optimism, though. Their 27 percent pressure rate ranks 10th in the league, but the sacks (seven) and takeaways (two) haven’t followed. The Saints have allowed only 1.8 sacks per contest — and four came in their game at the Panthers. They’ve also taken care of the ball with only three giveaways on their ledger.
Winds Of Change
Nobody expected the transition from Drew Brees to occur without some hiccups. Of course, the Saints’ Week 1 demolition of the Green Bay Packers gave a different impression.
In fairness to new starting quarterback Jameis Winston, his only poor outing came in Week 2 in Carolina. Outside of the two interceptions he threw in that loss, he’s taken care of the ball and mostly avoided the costly errors that plagued him in Tampa Bay.
While the “30 for 30” quips came easily after Winston’s Week 2 dud, the Saints’ defense deserves plenty of blame. The unit surrendered 26 points to the Panthers and 27 points to the Giants in New Orleans’ two losses.
Washington won’t be confused for an offensive juggernaut, but its 25.2 points per game rank 11th in the league. Taylor Heinicke has played well in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick and is coming off a win over the Atlanta Falcons. Heinicke is 2-1 as a starter and has led the offense to 30 or more points in both victories.
While the game opened pick’em in Las Vegas, FanDuel Sportsbook had a different idea, installing the Saints as 1.5-point road favorites.
Something will need to give in terms of the total.
The Saints have gone UNDER in three of four, while the Football Team has gone OVER in three of four. Most online sportsbooks are listing the total between 44 and 44.5. Value on the OVER has diminished, however, after the number opened as low as 43.5 at some shops.
Those looking to back Washington may be able to find an enticing price on the money line. DraftKings, for example, has moved the Football Team to +115 after opening them at +105.