With expectations soaring around the New Orleans Saints ahead of the 2018 campaign, Sean Payton has elected to embrace what the prognosticators are saying by adopting the slogan ‘Prove Them Right’. The excitement for the Jacksonville Jaguars remains a bit tempered heading into the new season. That seems odd for a team that advanced to the AFC Championship last season and came within nine minutes of playing for a Super Bowl title. The teams will square off in Week 1 of the preseason on Thursday in an interconference tussle.
This matchup in Week 1 of the preseason will take place on Thursday, August 9, 2018, at 7 p.m. ET at TIAA Bank Field.
NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu
New Orleans Saints +3
Jacksonville Jaguars -3
This game opened with a typical preseason line with the home team favored by a field goal. We’re not going to see much of the starters and the skill players for both sides are likely to spend the evening on the sidelines. The Saints have been one of the better offensive clubs the past several regular seasons, but they cashed the under in all four exhibition games last season and are looking at a total of 34.5.
The Saints really need a backup quarterback and three new ones are vying for the position this preseason. Former Texans signal-caller Tom Savage will get a look as will Taysom Hill and J.T. Barrett. Drew Brees is the guy and if Payton continues with the way he handles his QBs, we won’t see the veteran until Week 3.
Brees was the only player to throw a pass for the Saints last season and the team needs to work on an exit strategy now that he’s pushing 40. Brees has been blessed with good health over his career starting all but two games in his 12-year Saints tenure.
Doug Marrone used a three-man rotation at quarterback in last year’s preseason opener, and with Blake Bortles coming off wrist surgery in January a few additional reps may be needed. There is no Chad Henne at backup this season leaving a competition between Cody Kessler and Tanner Lee, unless a move is made before the regular season starts, to determine who gets the No. 2 role.
Kessler played the last two seasons with Cleveland putting up decent numbers for a lousy team. He threw for over 1,500 yards with six touchdowns in 12 games and has the edge over Lee, who was taken in the sixth round of the 2018 Draft.
The game came easy to a number of young players on the Saints roster and it’s Payton’s job to make sure there is no sense of entitlement among the last few draft classes that have created so much promise around the franchise. The Saints stopped a 10-game losing streak in the preseason with a Week 2 win last year and they are just 23-27 under Payton.
The first order of business for Marrone when taking over the Jags last season was to change the culture. That started in the preseason with a win over the Pats in the opener. The Jags went 2-2 last year and Marrone has compiled a 5-8 record, but he is 3-0 in the first week of games.
Free ATS Pick
The Jags have the edge in this game for several reasons. First, they get the game on their field, which is why they opened as a favorite. And we’re likely to get a series from Bortles, who has performed well in camp now that his wrist is surgically repaired. We won’t see Brees and his backup situation is unsettled. Three guys that weren’t with the team last season are competing, and while they may have success, it probably won’t come in this game.
Defense typically has the advantage in the early preseason games and with the Saints working in a trio of new quarterbacks it’s going to be tough for them to put up points. The Jags aren’t going to be much better giving plenty of value to the under.
NFL Odds: Jaguars 16, Saints 14
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