New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots Week 3 Predictions and Picks: Against the Spread, Total, and Props
When the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots meet in Week 3, the most talked-about storyline might be the matchup of the two head coaches. Sean Payton and Bill Belichick rank in the top five in wins, games, and winning percentage among active head coaches. However, most of their games and wins came with Drew Brees and Tom Brady as their quarterbacks. So will Payton get a better performance out of Jameis Winston this week, or will Belichick put Mac Jones in a position for his second career win?
The Saints have looked like two completely different teams through the first two weeks of the season. They followed up a franchise-record 35-point win over Green Bay in Week 1 with a 19-point drubbing on the road at the hands of the Panthers. The loss was their first road loss within the division in ten games. As good as Jameis Winston looked in Week 1 with five touchdown passes, he looked just as bad last week with a 50% completion percentage and two interceptions. New Orleans did not score until the 14:37 mark of the fourth quarter. Per ESPN Stats & Info, that was just the second time under head coach Sean Payton that they were scoreless through the first three quarters of a game.
The Patriots did what they have done every year for the last five, and beat the New York Jets. New England's 11 straight wins over New York is tied for the longest active winning streak against a single opponent, per the Elias Sports Bureau. New England's defense picked off Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson's first two passes of the game and finished with four total interceptions. The win helped New England avoid its first 0-2 start since the 2001 season, although that would not have been a bad omen considering they won the Super Bowl that year.
One of the biggest reasons for New Orleans' poor performance in Week 2 had to have been the COVID-19 outbreak that forced seven Saints coaches to miss the game. While all are expected to be cleared to coach in Foxborough this week, that time of interruption affects the preparation for the game being played that week and takes away opportunities for scouting future opponents. Thus, just because the coaching staff is likely to be intact this week, do not think there won't be any lingering effects from their absence.
Bill Belichick's teams have been successful throughout his coaching career because they rarely make more mistakes than their opponents. Though the sample size is just two games, New England seems like a team built around grinding the game out, getting the game to the fourth quarter, and pouncing when the opponents make costly mistakes. Belichick's defense has to be licking their chops this week as they face arguably the most turnover-prone quarterback in football. Winston's two-interception game last week was his 26th career game with multiple picks. We would worry about Winston's mindset heading into this week against any opponent, but the Patriots vaunted defense tied for second in the league with five takeaways through two games has to be racing through his mind.
The Saints also face the inevitable task of playing their third straight game away from home, as Hurricane Ida relocated their only home game to Jacksonville in Week 1. Foxborough has always been a tough place to play for opponents under Belichick. Still, the task gets even more challenging when a team operating out of a makeshift location in Texas since the start of the season pays a visit.
The Saints are 22-8 ATS in their last 30 games as a road underdog, while the Patriots are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite. However, how many of those games New Orleans have played as a road underdog have been their third consecutive road games? And how differently would we think of New England if Damien Harris did not fumble late in their Week 1 loss against the Dolphins, costing them an opportunity to be 2-0? Of course, many will still hesitate to back the Patriots in this game because of rookie quarterback Mac Jones, but Sean Payton will wish his quarterback was as much of a "game manager" as Jones has been when his team gets beat on the road. New England's point spread is a much stronger play if you can get it at -2.5 instead of -3.
Our more trusted play is the under on New England's team total given New Orleans' stout run defense that finished in the top four last year and is currently ranked third. However, given our confidence in their defense, we would still play the Patriots if we could get them at -2.5.
New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots Prediction and Pick
PICK: PATRIOTS TEAM TOTAL UNDER 22.5 POINTS
PLAY THE PATRIOTS AT -2.5, PASS AT -3