Calling all bettors! The last time the New Orleans Saints won more games than they did the year before was the 2018 season. Can they stop their decline in 2023 and, perhaps, even compete for a title? More pressingly, how will free agency and the upcoming NFL draft impact their chances? The following betting odds are based on DraftKings Sportsbook.
New Orleans Saints Super Bowl 58 Odds and Futures
Last February’s early odds for Super Bowl 57 offered clues on what sportsbooks were thinking and how that wove into the thinking of the broader betting market.
For example, the Kansas City Chiefs were the top favorite (+650 odds) of winning this year’s Super Bowl, while the Buffalo Bills were No. 2. Not too shabby as far as year-long predictions go.
But the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers were Nos. 3 and 4, respectively — though, in fairness, Davante Adams’ status in Green Bay remained unclear at that point. The Tennessee Titans (No. 9) and Denver Broncos (No. 10) clearly underwhelmed. The Philadelphia Eagles weren’t even in the top third.
Entering last season, the Saints had +3800 odds — tied with the Titans for 14th worst. In the end, their season was a minor disaster, as they backtracked at quarterback, running back, and run defense, though they made strides at receiver and pass defense.
So how should bettors respond to their current +5000 odds of winning Super Bowl 58? Let’s examine some key takeaways from 2022.
Alvin Kamara and Other 2022 Season Takeaways
The Saints are in an odd position, partly because the NFC South appears to be (for now) wide open. They were in a similar position last year and nearly defied the odds to win their division. They blew a late 13-point lead to the Bucs, lost to the Bengals on a 60-yard TD pass to Ja’Marr Chase with under two minutes to go, and gave up a fourth-quarter lead to the Vikings before losing on a 47-yard field goal with 24 seconds left.
Many teams go through these struggles. But New Orleans was somewhat unique in that they competed in a division where 8-9 or even 7-10 could be good enough to reach the postseason, and yet a few key players dramatically underperformed, pushing them just outside the bubble.
After engineering one of the greatest starts to a career in wideout history, putting him on track for all-time-great status, Michael Thomas has played in only 10 games these past three years. (Coincidentally, I’m writing this piece on his 30th birthday.) He might still be able to perform at a fairly high level. But we might never know.
Jarvis Landry didn’t pan out, as the 30-year-old missed eight contests and barely registered when he was on the field.
On the plus side, two rookies showcased skills that could elevate the Saints’ offense next season, provided they upgrade at quarterback. Uber rookie Chris Olave made the most of his opportunity to lead this unit. Despite dropping seven passes and showing some early-career inconsistencies, he generated a 72-1,042-4 receiving line in 15 outings. That’s certainly something to build on.
And undrafted rookie Rashid Shaheed somehow slipped past every other team. The 24-year-old Weber State dynamo cracked more than 50% of the offensive snaps for the first time in Week 12, and he never looked back. His 82.4% catch rate was nothing short of phenomenal by historical standards.
For context, the last wideout to match or exceed that catch rate while hitting 450+ yards was teammate Michael Thomas in 2018.
Alongside Juwan Johnson and even Adam Trautman, there’s plenty to build on here — again, if the Saints land a QB good enough to elevate his receivers.
But the biggest question mark might be at running back. After a blistering first four seasons of his career, all-world RB Alvin Kamara has looked all too human all too often. Stacked boxes have played a role. His broken tackle rate tanked to a career-low one every 31.9 carries, down from a previous career-low of one per 10.9.
He’s also facing the possibility of a suspension this next season. It’s a damaging confluence of circumstances for a guy entering his age-28 season — and quite possibly his post-prime years.
2023 Offseason Moves
This brings us to the Saints’ roster moves ahead of 2023. They don’t possess a lot of draft capital (though they do have two top-40 picks) and are dealing with tough salary cap constraints.
I believe their +5000 odds could improve significantly. But they might not have the cap flexibility to do much. It should be a fascinating offseason.
NFL Free Agency
March 6 Update: The Saints signed Derek Carr to a four-year contract. Immediately, their odds of winning Super Bowl 58 popped from +5000 to +4000. Warranted? Perhaps. Carr certainly marks an upgrade over Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton. And in a relatively weak NFC South, his addition comes at an ideal time.
However, I’m concerned about this jump in odds. Carr is coming off arguably his worst campaign since his rookie year, including his lowest completion percentage since 2014 and his worst interception rate.
Yet among starting quarterbacks, he averaged the eighth most time to throw. Now he’s shifting to a team on which Dalton had the sixth least amount of time to throw. He’s trading in Davante Adams for an arguably lesser (but no doubt, high-ceiling) Chris Olave, and Josh Jacobs for an aging Alvin Kamara, who might face a lengthy suspension.
Simply put, I wouldn’t get overly excited about this Carr signing. The Saints remain title long shots on par with the Steelers (+5500) and Patriots (+6000). Their +4000 odds are too bullish.
March 15 Update: Jamaal Williams has joined this backfield. It’s a smart move even if Kamara avoids a lengthy suspension. Be mindful, however, that this might be a “buy-high” move. Williams’ appeal stems largely from scoring 17 rushing TDs last season. His career 4.0 yards per carry is no fluke. Williams is a solid addition, but probably not a difference maker as New Orleans seeks AFC South advantages.
In the coming weeks, we’ll update this section with breaking news on other key Saints arrivals and departures through free agency and trades, how it impacts their Super Bowl odds, and how it might inform our decision to somehow bet on them to win it all.
In early May, we’ll update this section on key Saints draft picks and UDFA signings, with an eye toward any players who could help catapult them to “solid long shot” status or better.