The NFL regular season is upon us. Bettors got a little taste of the action with preseason games, but now it’s the real deal.
The New Orleans Saints play their season opener Sunday against the Green Bay Packers (Fox, 4:25 p.m. ET). The game has been moved from the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans to TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida.
The Saints are still designated as the home team, but the change of venue has altered some of the betting lines.
Packers-Saints Line Movement
The Packers were consensus 3-point favorites prior to the venue relocation, despite the Saints’ big home-field advantage at the Superdome. The raucous environment can be difficult for opponents to deal with.
Now that the game is no longer taking place in New Orleans, the spread has shifted in the Packers’ favor. While FanDuel is among the sportsbooks dealing Green Bay -4 as of Wednesday, Saints bettors should look for +4.5, a line available at BetMGM. DraftKings moved to Packers -3.5 (-115) for Green Bay backers.
The total opened at 50.5 and has moved down slightly to 50. For totals bettors, it’s worth keeping an eye on the weather in the coming days. Unlike the Superdome, TIAA Bank Field is an outdoor stadium, and Florida rain showers could impact conditions Sunday afternoon.
Who Is The Public Backing?
Despite the move to 3.5 at DraftKings, action at PointsBet has been overwhelmingly on the favorite. PointsBet told Louisiana Sharp in an email Tuesday that the Packers are taking 86% of both the total bets and total money.
In addition, the public is liking the OVER. With the total listed at 50, the OVER is taking 62% of the bets and 68% of the money.
The public backing Green Bay might be attributable to uncertainty with the New Orleans offense. This will be the Saints’ first season without Drew Brees at quarterback since 2005. After a QB competition with Taysom Hill, Jameis Winston was named the starting QB.
Winston led the league in passing yards with the Buccaneers back in 2019, but he also led the league with 30 interceptions. This will be his first start in a New Orleans uniform, and his past inconsistency could be causing hesitation among potential Saints backers.
The Saints will also be without wide receiver Michael Thomas for several weeks.
Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers returns at the helm of the Green Bay offense, a decision that flipped New Orleans from the favorite to the underdog. Rodgers is one of the game’s best, and he presents a tough challenge for the Saints’ defense. Rodgers completed 70.7% of his passes for 4,299 yards in 2020. He also tossed 48 touchdowns and was only picked off five times.
Also read: Pro bettor eyes huge payday with Saints
A Look Back
Rodgers led the Packers to a 13-3 record last season, and they went 10-6 against the spread. Their season saw more OVERs than UNDERs, as the OVER cashed in nine of their 16 regular-season games.
On the other side, the Saints posted a record of 12-4 a season ago, going 9-7 ATS. Much like the Packers, they also saw some high-scoring contests. The OVER went 10-6 for New Orleans.
These teams met in Week 3 last season. The Saints were favored by 3.5 points at home, but the Packers were able to walk away with a 37-30 win. The OVER hit with ease, as 67 points were scored with the total closing at 52.
Trends To Keep In Mind
Week 1 of the NFL season is always tough to predict. This particular game is even tougher. The Saints’ new QB situation along with a change of venue creates a lot of uncertainty.
That being said, the Saints are 8-1 straight up and ATS over the last two seasons without Brees as their starting QB. Last season, they went 3-1 SU and ATS with Taysom Hill as their starter. In 2019, they went 5-0 SU and ATS behind Teddy Bridgewater.
But can the Saints get the job done against the reigning league MVP? The Packers have been great at covering the spread in season openers in recent memory. Over the last six seasons, they are 5-1 ATS in Week 1. Conversely, the Saints are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven Week 1 games.
However, the Saints have covered the spread in five of their last seven matchups against the Packers going back to 2006. Additionally, the OVER has cashed in six of those seven games.
This is arguably the best Week 1 matchup out there, a fantastic game that can be enhanced with a little betting action.