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Each week during the NFL season, we'll focus on one underdog with a chance to pull off the outright upset. Last week, the Buccaneers (+160) fell flat against the Saints, but we're fading New Orleans once again in Week 2 and backing the Raiders (+210) on Monday night.
Even with a full complement of weapons on Sunday, New Orleans looked out of sync. The Saints were outgained in the air and on the ground, and if not for a pick-6 and Tampa Bay botching a punt, they could have easily lost at home. Those two plays happened, of course, but betting on other teams' miscues is not a sustainable way to win.
Now the Saints need to contend with the expected loss of Michael Thomas, who was on the receiving end for a whopping 38.9% of New Orleans' passing offense a year ago. Just look at how much the Texans struggled in Week 1 trying to run their offense without target hog DeAndre Hopkins. Losing a talent like Thomas is one thing, and reworking the offense is another.
The Saints' offense isn't built to attack even a vulnerable Raiders secondary. Drew Brees attempted just four deep passes against the Buccaneers, and he averaged 3.2 air yards per completion, tied for the lowest in Week 1. If that continues, this game will be closer than oddsmakers expect - which is exactly what the Raiders want.
The Saints' defense hasn't allowed a 100-plus-yard rusher in 44 games, but that streak could end on Monday. Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs has rushed for 100-plus-yards in five of his last 10 games, and he posted 139 total yards and three touchdowns last week, leading his team to a 34-30 win over the Panthers.
That victory was the Raiders' 15th one-score game since Jon Gruden took over as head coach in 2018. His team is a remarkable 13-2 against the spread in those contests with 10 outright victories, including a 9-0 ATS record with five upset wins as an underdog. A steady diet of Jacobs would help to chew clock while forcing the Saints to keep Brees involved, which would be good news for Vegas backers.
Betting any touchdown underdog on the moneyline is a big risk, but the Saints are reeling after a sloppy win and a major injury to arguably the most important piece of their offense. The Saints went 5-0 last year without Brees by force-feeding Thomas, and they haven't played without the stud pass-catcher since 2016.
His absence is a key reason to bet the Raiders, but Las Vegas' own Week 1 performance was encouraging, and now its pass defense needs to hold up. Given how Brees is playing, that shouldn't be an issue.
Take a swing on the big home 'dogs and hope for a close game throughout.
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.