Things started great for the New Orleans Saints in 2021. The Saints won five of their first seven games and entered the turn in complete control of their destiny. Then, an injury to Jameis Winston forced New Orleans to call an audible midseason, and they never recovered. The NFC South contenders lost five of their next nine games, falling out of the playoff picture on the misfortune of a tiebreaker.
With nearly a full year to recover from the torn ACL, Winston is back in the saddle and ready to lead the Saints into the 2022 season. They enter the year with +4000 NFL odds to win the Super Bowl.
Arriving in the NFL as a first overall selection comes with the belief that you will turn the fortunes of a franchise around. Although Winston was effective at times throughout his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he failed to deliver the game-changing results that were expected. Winston famously joined the 30-30 club in his last year with the Bucs, throwing 33 touchdowns against 30 interceptions.
Understanding his limitations, the Saints built their offense around Winston’s strengths, which paid off early last year. Winston’s pass attempts per game nosedived to 23, from a career-high of 39.1 with the Bucs in 2019. As expected, his yards per game got cut in half, going from 319.3 to 167.1. However, his yards per catch were mostly unaffected, but his interception total plummeted to a career-low 1.9%.
With the supporting cast around him, New Orleans doesn’t need Winston to carry the team; they need him to manage games.
One of the things that leapt off the tape about Jameis Winston last year was a massive improvement with drop footwork. Always a good football student, his slow, elongated footwork lagged behind his mind and was a root issue. No longer #WhoDat #Saints pic.twitter.com/0gDHSMlWPN
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) August 28, 2022
Entering the season, the health of Michael Thomas is a big question mark. The two-time All-Pro resolved an ankle injury that kept him out all last year, only to hurt his hamstring ahead of the regular season. Undoubtedly, Thomas makes the Saints a better team, but as shown in 2021, New Orleans can win without him.
Alvin Kamara remains the centerpiece on offense and has put the team on his back at times. The five-time Pro Bowler is coming off a 1,337 all-purpose yards campaign and saw increased usage in the Saints’ new offense. Kamara’s rush attempts per game went up by nearly 50%, jumping from 12.5 to 18.5 year-over-year. A focused running attack took the pressure off Winston and will be at the forefront of the Saints’ play-calling again this season.
New Orleans added more firepower to their offense, selecting Ohio State Buckeyes standout Chris Olave with their first-round selection. Olave averaged 15.4 yards per catch throughout his four-year tenure with the Buckeyes, adding another dimension to the Saints’ attack.
No Added Pressure on Offense
The Saints’ offense operates within their own parameters, thanks to the defensive structure that remains in place.
DeMario Davis, Marshon Lattimore, and Cameron Jordan set the tone in each layer of the defense. Further, the team added three-time All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu to their secondary, which should help the Saints improve on their already impressive 224.6 passing yards allowed per game.
The status quo is a good thing for a Saints defensive unit that allowed the sixth-fewest yards per game, although Mathieu brings some intangibles to the table that could help them look even better.
BetMGM Super Bowl Insights and Analysis
Health is one of the few factors working against the Saints ahead of the regular season. Winston needs to prove his knee is fully healed, the start of Thomas’s season is in jeopardy, and Kamara was limited to 13 games last year.
If the Saints can avoid significant setbacks, they could make a run at Bucs for the division title. Still, that uncertainty is already cooked into their Super Bowl odds, with New Orleans entering the season at +4000 to claim their first championship since 2010.
NFL Betting Odds at BetMGM
BetMGM is the premier destination for NFL betting odds throughout the season.
Whether you’re a new bettor checking out weekly spreads, a casual fan tracking live NFL betting odds, or a longtime football building moneyline parlays, and more there’s something for everyone at the best online sportsbook.
Check out the sportsbook this season to get closer to the action on the field!