New England coach Bill Belichick has an interesting decision on his hands for the Patriots’ preseason opener on Thursday night against New Orleans. Of course starting quarterback Tom Brady is suspended for the first four games of the regular season. So does Belichick play Brady more than usual in the preseason to keep him from getting rusty or does he give most of the snaps to backup Jimmy Garoppolo? After all, he’s starting those first four games. But the Pats also can’t afford to see him hurt. They are slight favorites on NFL odds Thursday vs. the Saints.
Let’s Take a Look at the New Orleans at New England Preseason Week 1 Free Pick, Lines & TV Info
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 9, 2016
New Orleans vs New England Historic Betting Trends
The Saints will play their first two preseason games on the road to allow time for renovations at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to be completed. The Saints are playing at New England in the first week after the Hall of Fame Game (which was canceled) for the third time in seven years. But last year they played in Week 2 of the preseason in New Orleans. The Patriots won 26-24. Brandin Cooks caught all four passes thrown his way for 117 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown from Drew Brees, and the Saints raced to a 21-0 lead before the Patriots rallied. After Brady failed to move New England for a first down on three series, Garoppolo led five scoring drives, starting with his scramble and 24-yard scoring pass to Chris Harper.
New England holds a 7-4 edge in the preseason series overall. Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft’s first game as owner of the team was a 1994 preseason game at Foxboro Stadium against the Saints. The Patriots won that game 24-6.
Why Bet on New Orleans?
The Saints and Patriots have been practicing together this week and Saints first-round pick Sheldon Rankins, a defensive tackle out of Louisville, picked off Brady on Tuesday. On the second snap of team drills, the burly defensive tackle intercepted Brady on a screen pass at the line of scrimmage and then rambled down the sideline for an apparent score. Rankins has impressed the Saints with his athleticism and attitude. Last year, he returned a fumble 46 yards for a touchdown, even hurdling a player along the way, against Boston College.
“I don’t know how many times he’s gonna get an interception like that,” Coach Sean Payton said Tuesday. “But nonetheless, he’s athletic, and I think it’s important to him. And that’s a trait we identified in college.”
Why Bet on New England?
Garoppolo clearly needs preseason work with the starting offense. But to what extent is Belichick willing for that to come at the expense of Brady’s preseason preparation? Belichick definitely won’t put Brady on the field with second-stringers. But will he do so with Garoppolo? We might see third-stringer Jacoby Brissett the most. Garoppolo was shaky again Tuesday vs. the Saints, throwing his fourth interception in his fourth practice. He finished 7-for- 15.
The Patriots almost had disaster strike at practice Tuesday as both No. 1 receiver Julian Edelman and defensive end and co-captain Rob Ninkovich both left with apparent injuries. After starting out strong on Tuesday in 1-on- 1 drills, Edelman went down with an apparent injury to his lower left leg. Edelman apparently is OK and is day-to- day. Edelman had undergone offseason surgery on his left foot after initially injuring it Nov. 15, in a game against the New York Giants. He missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning for the playoffs don’t expect to see him Thursday.
Ninkovich sustained a torn triceps injury. Although the muscle is torn, the tendon is not. That means Ninkovich will rehab the injury rather than undergo surgery. The hope is that the 11th-year veteran can return at some point in October. Ninkovich led the Patriots’ front seven in snaps last season, recording 6.5 sacks and a career-high seven pass deflections. He has started all 80 regular-season games for New England over the past five seasons. Huge loss.
Also, starting left tackle Nate Solder did not take part Tuesday in practice. He was not in attendance, either, and it remains unclear why he was absent. The offensive line has been riddled with injuries this summer. Solder joins Sebastian Vollmer, Jonathan Cooper and Tre’ Jackson as other offensive linemen on the mend.
My Free Pick
Saints and under. New England just doesn’t care about the preseason so take New Orleans on NFL odds.