One of the most controversial and talked about topics in the sports world in recent days hasn't come on a court or field, but instead in the court of public opinion.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees found himself at the center of controversy, first saying he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag" and then quickly apologizing the next day saying he "completely missed the mark."
The Brees' comments drew ire from teammates Michael Thomas and Malcolm Jenkins, possibly creating locker room turmoil for the upcoming season. But the teammates have since patched things up and appear to have put it behind them. (Here's the latest if you need a recap.)
Still, bettors can't help but wonder what kind of effect Brees' comments will have on a New Orleans team hoping to reach the Super Bowl.
The Saints finished 13-3 last season, tied with the Packers and 49ers for the 2nd-best regular-season record. New Orleans ran away with the NFC South, but lost in the wild-card round to the Vikings 26-20 in overtime as 7-point home favorites.
In 2020, New Orleans looks to avenge the early playoff exit in what many believe will be Brees' final season.
The Saints made a trio of additions in free agency, bringing in former 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, former Eagles safety Jenkins and former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.
The Saints only made four selections in the draft, solidifying the offensive line with Michigan center Cesar Ruiz in the first round, followed by a pair of third-round picks in Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun and Dayton tight end Adam Trautman. In the 7th round, New Orleans took a flier on Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens.
So what do the oddsmakers make of New Orleans in 2020?
The Saints win total is set at 10.5 across the market, tied with the 49ers for the 2nd-highest win total in the NFL. The Chiefs and Ravens are tied for the highest win total at 11.5.
However, unlike the 49ers, who have their 10.5 win total juiced to the over, the Saints have their 10.5 win total juiced to the under. FanDuel is hanging New Orleans under 10.5 win at -120 (over + 100). DraftKings and PointsBet are both under 10.5 at -115 (over -106). Circa Sports is the lone outlier hanging a win total of 10 with -130 over juice (+ 110 under).
Reading between the lines, oddsmakers and smart money are on the Saints taking a step back from last year's 13-3 season, possibly down to 10-6. One reason for the regression downward could be their division. The Saints now have to deal with Tom Brady and the new look Bucs twice a year.
However, if you disagree with the juice liability here is one reason to like the over: New Orleans has the 9th easiest schedule this season. Their 2020 opponents went a combined 125-130-1 (.490) last season.
Here is the full Saints schedule.
Week 1: vs Bucs
Week 2: at Raiders
Week 3: vs Packers
Week 4: at Lions
Week 5: vs Chargers
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: vs Panthers
Week 8: at Bears
Week 9: at Bucs
Week 10: vs 49ers
Week 11: vs Falcons
Week 12: at Broncos
Week 13: at Falcons
Week 14: at Eagles
Week 15: vs Chiefs
Week 16: vs Vikings
Week 17: at Panthers
The Saints are a relative shoo-in to make the postseason. New Orleans is a -350 favorite to make the playoffs at FanDuel and + 270 to miss the playoffs.
The Saints are a modest -110 favorite to win the NFC South, followed by the Bucs + 160, Falcons + 700 and Panthers + 1400.
New Orleans have the 2nd best odds to win the NFC at + 650, trailing only the 49ers at + 460. The Saints have the 4th-best Super Bowl odds at + 1200, trailing the Chiefs + 650, Ravens + 700 and 49ers + 900.
In terms of player props, Brees' over/under passing yards is 4,049.5 and passing touchdowns 30.5. Last year Brees was injured but still put up 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns. Brees is + 1700 to win MVP, tied with Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. Only Patrick Mahomes (+ 380), Lamar Jackson (+ 600), Russell Wilson (+ 600) and Dak Prescott (+ 1200) are higher
Michael Thomas' over/under receiving yards is 1,404.5 and receiving touchdowns is 8.5. Thomas finished with 1,725 yards and 9 touchdowns last season.
Alvin Kamara's over/under for combined rushing and receiving yards is 1,524.5. Kamara finished with 797 rushing yards and 533 receiving yards last season (total 1,330 yards).