Monday Night Football Picks: Patriots at Saints
by Matt Severance - 11/28/2009
This year's Monday Night Football schedule hasn't been a very memorable one so far. Since Week 6, there has been only one game decided by less than a touchdown, and we were subjected to the gruesome Baltimore-Cleveland matchup a few weeks ago.
Well, forget all that and enjoy this Monday's game between New England (7-3) and New Orleans (10-0), in what well could be one of the highest-scoring MNF games ever. The Saints are -1.5 on Sportsbook.com (the line opened at three) with an over/under of 56.5.
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Of course, the Pats had a chance to end Indianapolis' unbeaten season a few weeks ago, but they blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead thanks in large part to Bill Belichick's brain lock on fourth-and-two. That has been the Pats' only loss in the past five games, and New England has beaten its past four opponents by double digits. However, New England has lost all three true road games this year (0-2-1 ATS), with the lone "road" win coming in London against the bad Buccaneers.
Obviously, New Orleans is unbeaten at home (3-2 ATS), but the Saints' last two games in the Superdome have been close calls to Atlanta and Carolina. And while New Orleans topped 40 points four times in the first six games this year, it hasn't done so since -- but remains on pace to score an NFL-record 590 points. The Saints still lead the NFL by averaging 36.9 points and 420.5 yards of total offense per game (the Pats are No. 4 and No. 2, respectively). New England's defense has allowed more than 24 points just once and is second in scoring defense.
Both Tom Brady, who has five straight 300 yard passing games for the first time in his career (New England averaging 37.2 ppg in those five), and Drew Brees have at least 20 touchdown passes and rank in the top five in passer rating. But the Saints are 16th in passing defense while New England is No. 6. New Orleans' defense, however, leads the league in takeaways and is expecting back starting tackle Sedrick Ellis after he missed the past four games.
The first quarter could prove huge Monday. In their past five games, the Saints have either trailed or been tied after 15 minutes. New England has outscored opponents 62-10 in the first quarter of its past six games.
If New Orleans does win Monday, it well could be looking at an unbeaten regular season. After New England, the Saints finish against teams that have a combined record of 21-30 entering Week 12.
Monday Night Football Picks: Have to take New England on this, although I would have much preferred it at three points, obviously. This game could be a pick'em by kickoff. The Patriots have won six straight games on "Monday Night Football" and are 52-10 after Thanksgiving since 2001. But I only give them a three-star rating against New Orleans (out of five possible stars). As for the total, I'm willing to bet that number keeps climbing until kickoff. And I would go with the under, with a rating of three stars. It's rare these shootouts actually turn out that way, although Pats-Colts did. I happen to think Belichick thinks his best chance to win is keep Brees and Co. off the field, much like he did to Kurt Warner and the Rams the last time the Pats were in the Superdome in Super Bowl XXXVI. I'm thinking 31-24 Patriots.
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