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  • Early 2019 betting odds for the New Orleans Saints
    by Chris Dunnells on July 18, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports Saints are early favorites for a Super Bowl run. As we inch closer to the start of the 2019 NFL regular season, we’re starting to see betting odds change to reflect offseason storylines. The Westgate Resort and Casino has recently released their updated betting odds for the 2019 season, and the Saints are early favorites across the board: The Saints are still the favorites to win the NFC South, but now the odds have improved from 4/11 to 2/1. The Falcons are still considered the team with the second best odds to win the division, now at 7/2, with the Carolina Panthers at 6/1 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 10/1. If news comes out that Cam Newton is still dealing with an injured shoulder, expect that Carolina number to continue to drop. If you wanted to bet the Saints would just make the playoffs, regardless of if they win the division, the Saints are considered more likely to make the playoffs (-330) than to miss them all together (+260). Drew Brees is still considered one of the favorites to win his first MVP, with odds reflecting he has the fourth best chance to win, tied with Carson Wentz (both as 12/1) and behind Andrew Luck (10/1), Aaron Rodgers (8/1), and last year’s MVPhenom Patrick Mahomes (4/1). But the number you’re probably most interested in is Super Bowl odds. As it stands now, the Saints are tied with the Rams as the favorites to win the NFC (4/1). But interestingly, once it switches to the Super Bowl, the Rams and Saints (both 8/1) are behind the AFC favorites, the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots (both 6/1). There’s a reason the players who up on Sunday, but let’s hope the Saints can live up to expectations. […]

  • 2019 New Orleans Saints training camp preview: Linebacker
    by BobRose on July 17, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images Can this much improved unit in 2018 take the next step into dominance for the 2019 Saints? The New Orleans Saints had arguably the worst linebacker play in the league from 2012-2016. Too often, coaches and fans would see a Saints linebacker beaten badly down the field or to the edge, or woefully out of position, often creating big plays for the opposition. Opposing tight ends and running backs would run amok through the New Orleans defense, with the linebacking corps often helpless to slow them down. Coach Sean Payton made a difficult personal decision after the 2016 season, moving on from longtime friend and linebackers coach Joe Vitt and replacing him with experienced defensive guru Mike Nolan. The difference in the play of the unit as a whole was immediately noticeable. The Saints linebackers, while still not a dynamic group, played much better football in 2017. Last season, the position took another big step, being arguably the most improved unit on the entire team. New Orleans benefited last year from one of the league's most underrated free agent signings, as well as a return from injury by a highly regarded draft pick from the previous year. With training camp just a couple days away from it's official start, we preview the Saints most improved unit from a year ago. LINEBACKER Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images Offseason losses: Manti Te'o Newcomer to watch: Kaden Elliss The Saints signed linebacker Demario Davis to a three year contract away from the New York Jets last offseason in what turned out to be one of the biggest free agency additions throughout the league. Davis, a seven year veteran, not only turned in his sixth straight season with at least 89 tackles (110 total), but added an element of speed and aggressiveness to the unit and quickly blossomed into a leader for the entire defense. He matched his career high in sacks (5), and added 11 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and was credited with 4 passes defensed. The 6'2 248-lb. Davis can skillfully play any of linebacker spots, and is a sideline to sideline menace for opposing offenses. He has the athleticism to cover backs, tight ends, or even some receivers down the field as well as bursting into the offensive backfield to make a play. Davis shows excellent play recognition, and fires through gaps to stop ball carriers in their tracks. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports Alex Anzalone rebounded from an injury shortened rookie season in 2017 to show why the Saints invested a 3rd round draft choice in him last year. Anzalone, who turns 25 in September, was limited to just four games his rookie year due to a shoulder injury, but carved out an important role in the Saints defense last year. Anzalone has excellent athleticism, and at 6'3 241-lbs. possesses the size, strength, and versatility to play all of the linebacking spots as well. He matches up well in man coverage, and is fluid in his zone drops and recognition. He pursues ball carriers well, and has tremendous burst into the backfield. Anzalone and Davis are both every down linebackers with the skill and versatility to make plays all over the field, and are a formidable tandem against opposing offenses. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports A.J. Klein enters his third season with New Orleans after spending his first four years with division rival Carolina. He had a career high 70 tackles (7 for loss)in 2018, third on the team, and added 2 fumble recoveries, an interception, and 2 sacks. Klein, who turns 28 later this month, may not have the raw athleticism of Davis or Anzalone, but has a good feel for opposing offenses and is always around the ball. The 6'1 240-lb. Klein packs a punch as hitter, flows well to the play, and can also play either inside or outside. Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports Craig Robertson is the elder statesman of the Saints linebacking unit at 31-yrs. old, and also it's longest tenured entering his fourth season with the team. A starter in 2016 and 2017, Robertson now provides quality depth at either inside or outside, and is one of the team's best special teams players. A bit undersized at 6'1 234, Robertson has good open field agility and particularly excels in coverage. An experienced vet who knows the defense well, coaches know that Robertson is capable of stepping in as a starter with little dropoff. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images Vince Biegel was signed by New Orleans early last season after being cut in training camp by Green Bay. A fourth round draft pick by the Packers in 2017, Biegel was an accomplished linebacker at the University of Wisconsin. After a short stint on the practice squad, the Saints promoted him to the active roster, where he saw the majority of his playing time on special teams. The 6'3 246-lb. Biegel is a good athlete and has good straight line speed, traits that the team's coaches are looking to take advantage of as they were moving him around during OTA workouts in search for his best fit. Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images New Orleans used the 244th pick in this spring's draft (7th round) to select Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss. Son of former Detroit Lions Pro Bowl defensive lineman Luther Elliss, Kaden plays with good upper body strength at the point of attack, and has good lateral quickness along the edge. Listed at 6'3 240-lbs., Elliss was often utilized close to the line or at rush end in college. He plays stiff off the line, and was extremely limited in coverage with the Vandals, but will have the opportunity during camp and preseason to show that he can be a versatile contributor for Nolan's unit. Undrafted rookie Porter Gustin showed the same kind of coverage limitations at U.S.C., but like Elliss consistently showed that he can be a difference maker near the line of scrimmage. The 6'5 260-lb. Gustin will get an opportunity to earn a role as a backup defensive end, but will also see snaps at linebacker this preseason. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Colton Jumper has his second opportunity to make the Saints roster this season. An undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2018, Jumper saw snaps at both weakside and middle spots last preseason before being one of the team's final cuts. The 6'2 229-lb. Jumper has excellent open field speed, and should see plenty of snaps this summer to carve out a role on this squad. New Orleans also signed Darnell Sankey to a futures contract at the end of the year. Sankey has bounced around on the practice squads of seven different teams since entering the league in 2016, and is hoping to make an impression on coaches for an active spot. Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images Once upon a time, the Saints had the most dominant group of linebackers in NFL history in the Dome Patrol, who terrorized offenses from the mid-1980's through the early 90's. While it would certainly be a stretch to compare this group to that elite unit, they did contribute mightily to the Saints defensive success last season. Demario Davis was worthy of a Pro Bowl bid, and is one of this defense's best players, while Alex Anzalone looks poised to become a star. Depth is a concern outside of Robertson, but Mike Nolan has put together a more versatile, athletic, and aggressive unit than the Saints have had in years. One worthy of a championship chase on one of the NFL's rapidly improving defenses. […]

  • Bears hope cold weather gets to Brees in Week 7
    by Chris Dunnells on July 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports Our friends from Windy City Gridiron preview the Chicago Bears’ offseason. We’ll continue a series of opponent preview posts for the New Orleans Saints opponents in 2019. Next, we’ll look at a meeting of two playoffs teams from 2018, the Week 7 Sunday afternoon game against the Chicago Bears. Our friends over at Windy City Gridiron took some time to give us Saints fans the scoop about the reigning NFC North Champions. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports Week 7: as the Chicago Bears Notable free agent additions: Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, WR/KR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson, CB Buster Skrine, RB Mike Davis Clinton Dix is the only for-sure starter signed as a free agent, although Skrine was added for the all-important nickel spot. Over/Under: 9 wins -- Over Most exciting rookie: David Montgomery is a perfect scheme fit for what the Bears want to do on offense. His ability to line up anywhere will open up the playbook. Position battle to keep an eye on: The Bears seem set at every starting spot, so finding some tight ends that will step up behind Trey Burton will be critical since Nagy likes to utilize two tight end sets. Adam Shaheen has had an injury plagued career so far, but he’s once again having a good offseason. If he’s healthy, he’s the top inline TE, but the Bears brought in four undrafted free agents to compete at the position, plus have returning Ben Braunecker and newly converted Bradley Sowell. Biggest storyline heading into training camp: FINDING A KICKER! Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Beat writers were raving about rookie nickel Duke Shelley, and he might push Buster Skrine for playing time. Notable injuries heading into training camp: The Bears are relatively healthy and everyone that is currently rehabbing will be back at some point during camp. Obscure player on the 90-man roster that will be a preseason star (and likely later cut): The Canadian sensation Matt Betts (a UDFA OLB) has awesome tape and great measurables, so he’s likely to look incredible playing against 4th stringers in preseason, but I think he’ll have a tough time making the 53-man roster. *** The Saints have a game in Week 7, so prepare yourself for the “Drew Brees and the Saints can’t play outside in the cold” takes. So what says you, you unbiased Saints fans? Can the Saints knock down the defending NFC North Champs, or will the weather do them in? Vote in the poll. Explain in the comments. And make sure you also check out DraftDividends.com, a website for a new book I’m writing currently titled Draft Picks and Dividends: A Fantasy Football Player’s Guide to Understanding the Stock Market. […]

  • Saints’ nickel corner spot up for grabs at camp
    by Chris Dunnells on July 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    The Advertiser-USA TODAY NETWORK Not everyone hates Nickelback. There are a lot of interesting roster position battles for the New Orleans Saints this year. Long snapper, #2 wide receiver, #3 wide receiver, center, back-up offensive linemen, and kick returner are all wide open for the taking this year. So too is the nickel corner spot on defense. Bleacher Report, in determining the “biggest spot up for grabs” on each NFL team’s roster, decided the nickel corner was the “biggest” spot available: The New Orleans Saints have their starting cornerbacks in Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple. However, there should be an open job at nickelback this season and a few potential candidates to fill it. Patrick Robinson started eight games for the Saints in 2017 but suffered a broken ankle after just three appearances last season. P.J. Williams took over and started seven games, but he could face discipline for an offseason DWI arrest. According to Olivia Prentzel of NOLA.com, Williams pleaded not guilty in February, but players don’t need to admit guilt or be prosecuted to be in violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. Also in the mix at cornerback for the Saints is rookie fourth-round pick Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Though he’s more of a safety than a cornerback, teams frequently deploy three safeties in sub-packages, and Gardner-Johnson could carve out a significant role. Between Patrick Robinson, PJ Williams, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, the Saints will surely find one of the three to fill out the role in the slot. If I had to guess, Patrick Robinson starts the year as the primary slot corner with PJ Williams suspended or serving as the first backup in the event of injury, and as the season goes on, CGJ slowly takes more and more snaps away from PRob. That being said, I think I disagree with Bleacher Report’s assessment that this spot on defensive in the “biggest” spot up for grabs on the 2019 Saints. Considering the DWI of Williams, the money invested in Robinson, and the fact that CGJ is a rookie, I’m not sure there is honestly much of a competition there to start camp. I would label the Saints #2/#3 wide receiver as the biggest spot up for grabs. With Michael Thomas firmly entrenched as the Saints #1 wide receiver, many expect Ted Ginn Jr. to be the de facto #2 in 2019. However, Ginn is 34 years old and on the downside of his career - not to mention the fact that Ginn was forced to miss significant time due to injury in 2018. Speaking of injury, you also have the enigmatic Cameron Meredith vying for the spot, plus a bevy of largely underwhelming names like Keith Kirkwood, Tre’Quan Smith, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Rishard Matthews, and Emmanuel Butler all trying to snap a spot in the receiving corps. […]

  • Cam Jordan weighs in on long season proposal, Madden rating, new P.I. replay rules
    by John J. Hendrix on July 15, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images Cam Jordan had plenty to say on The Rich Eisen Show on Monday. We’re in the calm before the storm that is NFL Training Camp, and it’s about time for us to get back to football. On Monday’s showing of The Rich Eisen Show, New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan spoke about his Madden NFL 20 rating, the league’s 18-game proposal, and the new instant replay rules. The video is below on YouTube, courtesy of of AT&T AUDIENCE Network. Jordan wasn’t too happy with his Madden rating, which came in at 91 overall. It was only the ninth-highest among all defensive linemen. Jordan tied with Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins and Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, with Baltimore’s Michael Pierce (92), Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell (92,), Detroit’s Damon Harrison (95), Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox (96), Houston’s J.J. Watt (97), and Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald (99) all being ahead of him. Jordan called Donald “great”, while referring to Watt as “Captain America” and Cox as “a force”. After that, it was an interesting reaction. Jordan didn’t appear to be familiar with Michael Pierce, as he said he knew 9 out of the 10 players listed. However, he did tip his hat to Terrell Suggs and his tutelage. Regarding the new pass interference rules, Eisen was direct in asking Jordan about how the season ended. Jordan responded with, “If anything, I’m always focused on just this next stop. Because of the way it ended, it’s like I don’t even want to focus on how it ended. I want to focus on how to be better.” Jordan added that he wants finish every game like the way to Saints played against the Cowboys to put it on the defense and get the ball back to give the offense another opportunity. Eisen explained the process put forth by Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron, to which Jordan inquired about the Chris Jones hit on Tom Brady as to whether it would be reviewable or not. It’s not. Jordan added, “Out of evolution of the game, you’re have an outcome that’s going to happen. When you have something like what finished our game, you could hope that there could be a review situation. You figure you’ve got the best referees on the field who are going to make the best calls, and when they don’t that’s where scrutiny comes. And now you’re taking it to a higher power. Hopefully that higher power is correct.” Regarding the 18-game NFL schedule that was proposed by the owners, Jordan’s immediate response was probably how most players would react. “How would that even work?” Jordan asked. “So, people come to a game to watch Drew Brees throw to Michael Thomas, watch AK (Alvin Kamara) take off from the backfield or catch out of the backfield, uprising stars to play. You’ve got starters that are only going to play for 16 games, how’s that going to work?” Jordan added. “As a competitor, as a ultimate competitor, I never want to be off the field. So, you’re not going to tell me I’m going to be out of a game, especially when I have my brothers that we’re fixing to go through training camp with, or people that you you bleed, sweat, and win with. You’re not going to tell me I’m going to be out for two whole games. It’s not going to happen.” Jordan’s thought process centered around the logistics and compensation, especially pointing out how someone would choose what weeks to be off. Eisen added that quarterbacks may not be exempt since they are already protected. Jordan quickly stated that Drew Brees would throw for 6,000 yards instead of 5,000 yards. The Rich Eisen Show airs daily at 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET on AT&T AUDIENCE Network, which can be found on DIRECTV Ch. 239. […]

 

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