Life is about to get a whole lot better for sports bettors in the state of Louisiana. Online sports betting and retail sportsbooks are now legal and should launch by the end of the year. That means it is going to be a whole lot easier for fans to bet on their favorite teams– like the New Orleans Saints and the LSU Tigers.
In recent years, both have been good teams to bet on. The Saints have won 11+ games and the division for the last four years. As for LSU— the Tigers are just two years removed from a 15-0 season and a national championship (and Heisman winner).
But just because they have been good bets does not mean they will be good bets in 2021.
LSU is coming off a 5-5 season. With most of the championship roster gone, fans had to expect some growing pains– which they had. As for the Saints, for the first time since 2006, the Saints will not have Drew Brees quarterbacking the offense.
However, while there is reason to fear betting on either team this season, the general outlook for both is good. But if you only wanted to bet on one—who is the better bet?
New Orleans Saints 2021 Season Preview
|New Orleans Saints Odds: 2021/22||DraftKings||BetMGM||PointsBet|
|To Win The Division (NFC South)||+300||+300||+300|
|To Win The Conference (NFC)||+1300||+1800||+1400|
|To Win The Super Bowl||+2800||+4000||+2800|
If you are thinking the biggest story in the Big Easy this offseason is the retirement of longtime quarterback Drew Brees—well, you are right. How do you replace one of the most prolific passers in NFL history without taking a step back as an offense?
Taysom Hill did fine in the handful of games he started last season, but many seem to think Jameis Winston will win the starter’s role. But neither is the same caliber of quarterback that Brees was, which means the offense will slip.
Having one of the best offensive lines in the league (No. 4 according to PFF) and the sixth-best rushing offense in the league should help. But it might not since defenses do not have to worry about getting picked apart by Drew Brees anymore.
While the retirement of Brees is an issue for the Saints, it is not the only one. Can the defense remain a top-five unit (No. 5 scoring defense: 21.1 points/game) after losing Trey Hendrickson, Janoris Jenkins, Sheldon Rankins, and Alex Anzalone?
If their top three draft picks (all defenders) can step up— maybe. With the offense likely taking a step back this season, the Saints will probably need their defense to be as good or better than last season’s unit (which is asking a lot).
LSU Tigers 2021 Season Preview
|LSu Tigers Odds: 2021/22||DraftKings||BetMGM||PointsBet|
|To Win The Division (SEC-West)||+650||+1000||N/A|
|To Win The Conference (SEC)||+1200||+1200||+2000|
|To Win The National Championship||+2800||+3500||+3000|
Ed Orgeron did not have it easy last season. Most of his starting offense and defense from 2019’s championship season had either moved on to the NFL, graduated, or opted out because of the pandemic.
Throw in some crucial injuries, and it is not shocking the Tigers struggled to break .500 (5-5).
But the upside to a down season is that many players were able to get some valuable experience. Because of that experience, expectations are high for several returning starters.
Myles Brennan will likely get the nod at quarterback. He had the offense humming in his three starts last season before going down with an injury. If the Tigers defense had not been historically bad, he could have easily gotten the team off to a 3-0 start (instead of 1-2).
PFF has Brennan rated as the second-best quarterback heading into 2021. Having a guy like Kayshon Boutte to work with should help him live up to expectations, as should having all five starters on the offensive line coming back.
Of course, it will help if they can establish a reliable run game, too. Despite having a solid offensive line, the Tigers were a below-average run team in 2020 (tenth in run-play efficiency in the SEC).
But if the offense should struggle a little, the defense may be more than capable of picking up the slack. Last season, the LSU pass defense was one of the worst in the FBS (ranked 127th with 323 yards/game allowed). However, with the talent coming back and a new coordinator, expectations are sky-high in 2021.
The Tigers have arguably two of the best cornerbacks in the nation (Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks). All four starters on the defensive line are back. But they could lose time to BJ Ojulari and freshman Maason Smith.
Clemson transfer Mike Jones should help make up for the loss of Jabril Cox.
So—Who Is The Better Bet?
Both teams will be hard-pressed to win their division, conference, or the Super Bowl/National Championship. But if you are going to bet on one team—take the New Orleans Saints.
LSU looks like a good team. But the only real difference between this year and last year’s .500 team is the coordinators. New coaches can make a difference, of course. But last season’s dreadful defense was not all Bo Pelini’s fault.
Is it fair to expect a coordinator who has never done the job at the FBS level to turn things around?
As for the Saints, their success will hinge on the play at quarterback—and Taysom Hill did well when he started last season.
Neither team is a great bet, but there is more value to taking the Saints to win the division/conference/Super Bowl than taking LSU. There are too many roadblocks (personnel and competition) in the way for the Tigers this season.