The New Orleans Saints are going to be without the wide receiver that set NFL records last season. That is an obstacle in their path as they take their first “business” trip to Sin City for a game with the Las Vegas Raiders, which is scheduled for 8:15 PM ET on Monday Night Football.
This is the first game at the all-new Allegiant Stadium, and BetAnySports has reduced jucie for its customers, as well as the chance to place wagers in real-time with Sports Betting Prime.
The Michael Thomas injury
Michael Thomas, who set an all-time NFL record with 149 receptions last season, has been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, At this point there’s no telling how much time he will actually miss. Thomas was by far the most targeted reciever in the NFL last season. So New Orleans will have to adjust the way it approcahes things on offense. Perhaps more importantly, the Raiders have had to change the defensive game plan to prepare for New Orleans to go another way.
Which way will Brees go?
Drew Brees is, frankly, not a guy who is known to throw the ball far down the field. And we know he’s found as much success as any present-day NFL quarterback. So he is naturally going to center his focus on targets for short passes. The Saints made a move to deflect attention away from Thomas when they picked up Emmanuel Sanders. He’s a reliable wideout who was a nice acquisition by the Niners last season.
What’s more, Brees can find Alvin Kamara out of the backfield, as he did 81 times last season. He’s going to do that anyway. Tre’Quan Smith is probably the preferred option next to Thomas among wide receivers. And then there is Taysom Hill, who is liable to hit the Raiders in a number of different ways.
Jared Cook is a target Brees should be looking for a little more. Cook had the best ratio of touchdowns to overall targets in the NFL last season. So there should be no question as to whether Brees has enough outlets.
Here are the numbers……..
In the odds at BetAnySports upon which we will make our MNF picks for this game, the Saints are in the favorite’s role as the visitor:
|Saints||-4 (-110)||48½ (-115)||-200|
|Raiders||+4 (-110)||48½ (-105)||+170|
Raiders air attack
The Raiders have tried to bolster themselves at the receiver spot. And to be honest, they don’t have a bad collection of outlets for Derek Carr to choose from. Just as Jared Cook was a primary target for Carr two years ago, Darren Waller gets a lot of attention from the tight end spot. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock, who make the personnel decisions, added speed to the mix. They drafted Henry Ruggs out of Alabama in the first round. If they are going to attack downfield, he may be the first place Carr will look. Listed as questionable with a knee injury, he should be okay to suit up.
Hunter Renfroe, who played on a national championship team at Clemson, is a valuable slot receiver. Also, Nelson Agholor, who played for the Eagles when they won the Super Bowl, is on board. And it is an ironic twist that Jason Witten, who was at one time the color commentator on Monday Night Football, is active again and playing in this game. His coach (Gruden) is the guy he had originally replaced at ESPN.
Las Vegas – Who’s banged up?
The Raiders’ main injury concern would involve the offensive line, which is usually a great unit. But Trent Brown, the right tackle, is listed as doubtful. So is his backup, Sam Young. So Denzelle Good may find himself handling that position again.
By the way, the tempestuous Richie Incognito, who had been on the injury report, will play. He is a guard known for several things, obviously. But one of those things is run blocking. Viva Las Vegas!
They’re saying that Josh Jacobs will get more involved in the passing game for the Silver & Black. Okay, that’s not a bad thing. And Carr is like Brees in the sense that he runs a low-risk system, keeping turnovers and sacks down. The Raiders should be able to move on the offensive end.
But this is not a defense anybody can trust, particularly the secondary. And that’s why we think the Saints will be able to create an offensive game plan that will get things on a roll, without having to run the ball and kill clock.
Did you know that the Saints’ defense has gone 41 consecutive games without allowing a running back to gain 100 yards? That’s the kind of thing that will just funnel the activity to the air. What we’re looking at points things to the OVER.
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