The Raiders christen their new home and stadium in Las Vegas with a Monday Night Football showdown against the New Orleans Saints.
Our staff takes a closer look at the spread and total below.
Saints vs. Raiders Picks
Brandon Anderson: Raiders +5.5
One hundred forty-nine — that’s how many receptions Michael Thomas had last season. That led the league, as did Thomas’ yardage total of 1,725, which paced him well above 100 yards per game. That was almost a third of all Saints passing targets a year ago, and they’re now missing from this offense for the foreseeable future with Thomas suffering from a high ankle sprain.
You might argue that Thomas — not Drew Brees — is the Saints’ most important player. New Orleans has Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill to step in at quarterback, but there’s no other Michael Thomas. The Saints did sign Emmanuel Sanders, but he had only 15 yards in Week 1 and wasn’t practicing this week, so he could be limited, too.
The Saints offense was not good in Week 1, even with Thomas out there. They ranked bottom-five in the NFL in both passing and rushing yards, saved only by a great defensive effort against a Bucs team still getting used to each other. The Raiders offense may be better than Tampa’s right now with their continuity and dominant line, and the Saints offense may be worse than you think while they adjust to life without Thomas.
This is the first home game ever for the Las Vegas Raiders. Even without a fan in the stadium, I like them to come out strong and make this a game. I’ll play the Raiders to +5.
Michael Arinze: Alt Under 49 (-115)
The New Orleans Saints scored 34 points last week in their win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If you only saw that by looking at the scoreboard, you would probably rate the Saints as an offensive juggernaut.
However, a closer look reveals that New Orleans only had 271 yards (ranked 31st) of offense and averaged 4.1 yards per play (ranked 32nd). The difference in that game was that New Orleans was +3 in turnover margin and even had a pick-6 against Tom Brady in the ballgame. New Orleans’ defense is really good and Football Outsiders has the Saints as the sixth-ranked defense per their DVOA metrics while offensively, DVOA actually has them ranked 26th.
Offensively, the Saints could look even more pedestrian tonight without the services of last year’s AP Offensive Player of the Year, Michael Thomas. If New Orleans counters by going to more of a ground game, the Raiders should be up to the task. Las Vegas held opposing teams to just 98 yards rushing per game and 3.9 yards per carry last year.
This total opened at 50.5 and has already been bought down to 48.5.
I agree with the move to the under as my model, which makes projections using yards per play, also has the total staying under the number.
Few things to takeaway here: The under is 6-2 in the Raiders last eight games and 4-1 in the Saints last five Week 2 games. And Monday night games in Week 2 are also 8-0 to the under with two pushes in the last 10 games played.
I’d like to have the key number of 49 in my pocket, so I’ll buy a half-point at DraftKings and play the total at under 49 (-115). I’d risk a half-unit on this wager, but I wouldn’t pay more than five cents to get the key number of 49.