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Saints Still Listed as Odds-On Favorites to Win NFC South with Brees Out 6 Weeks; Do Falcons Present Value?

Drew Brees close up
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is expected to miss at least six weeks with torn ligaments in the thumb on his throwing hand. That's also thrown the NFC South race wide open. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License].
  • New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is expected to miss at least six weeks due to a torn ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand
  • The Saints are still listed as the -200 favorites to win the NFC South
  • Should you stay with the Saints, or look to another NFC South team to take advantage of the Brees absence?

An ill wind has disrupted Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. In the process, it’s causing storm clouds to gather over NFC South prognostications.

Brees suffered a torn ligament in his throwing hand thumb. Speculation is the injury will sideline the 12-time Pro Bowl quarterback for six weeks.

Are the 1-1 Saints still money to win the NFC South? They remain the -200 chalk in the NFL Divisional odds.

2019-20 NFC South Division Odds

Team Odds
New Orleans Saints -200
Atlanta Falcons +333
Carolina Panthers +850
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +900

*Odds taken on 09/16/19.

The Atlanta Falcons, who most recently wore the division crown in 2016, are the second betting choice at +333.

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters?

The Saints locked up back-up QB Teddy Bridgewater to a one-year, $7.25 million fully guaranteed contract to serve as understudy to Brees.

The pact made him the highest-paid second-string QB in the NFL.

The early return on investment was not promising. Bridgewater was 17-of-30 for 165 yards, no touchdowns and a passer rating of 72.2 after taking over the injured Brees in Sunday’s 27-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Bridgewater’s last start was January 10th, 2016 for the Minnesota Vikings in a 10-9 NFC Wild Card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He’s 17-12 all-time as an NFL starter.

The last QB to start and win a game for the Saints other than Brees was Aaron Brooks. He led New Orleans to a 21-19 victory over the New York Jets on November 27th, 2005.

Best Bet To Topple Saints?

On paper, it sure looks like Christmas has come early for the Falcons. And yet they continue to be the gift that keeps giving opportunities to the other team.

QB Matt Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP, has evolved into a turnover machine this season. Atlanta’s stout defensive performance enabled the Falcons (1-1) to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-20 on Sunday despite Ryan being picked off three times.

That’s five interceptions for the season through Week 2. He tossed seven all of last season.

In fact, the best thing the Saints have going for them right now is the poor QB play of the other three NFC South squads.

Cam Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, also appears to have forgotten how to play football. Newton and the Carolina Panthers are 0-2.

In his last game, Newton finished second-best to Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston. The degree of difficulty to play QB worse than Winston is an astonishing low bar to slide under.

And Newton appears to be taking his fashion sense from Queen Elizabeth.

A Brees For Teddy Ballgame

The list of back-ups who came off the bench to do great things is lengthy. Jeff Hostetler (Giants), Nick Foles (Eagles), Doug Williams (Redskins), Jim Plunkett (Raiders) and Trent Dilfer (Ravens) were second stringers who won Super Bowls.

Earl Morrall kept Miami’s 1972 season perfect for nine games while Bob Griese nursed a broken ankle back to health.

The Saints schedule for the next six weeks looks like this – at Seahawks, Cowboys, Buccaneers, at Jaguars, at Bears, Cardinals. They should win three or four of those.

If Bridgewater maintains the Saints at .500, Brees will get the job done against this weak division upon his return.

The NFC South remains New Orleans’ to lose.

Pick:  New Orleans Saints (-200).

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