Monday, August 22, 2011

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New Orleans Saints vs Oakland Raiders: NO -4.5
It shouldn't surprise anyone that OAK laid an egg last week.  On talent alone they should have been able to take care of a SF team very much in transition, but when you're a bad organization like OAK you come to expect these kinds of letdowns. This doesn't mean I think NO will roll over them with ease, but it's hard to imagine that they can bring enough to the table and hang in there with the starters for three quarters.

Campbell left with a concussion last week, but he didn't exactly look great while he was healthy. The dynamic duo of Edwards and Boller were much less effective than the prior week.  We shouldn't be shocked by the inconsistency, but QB competition is supposed to bring out the best in players.  Despite working on their red zone play all week in practice, OAK still had monumental problems finding the end zone against SF.  On the bright side, their own red zone defense played well--although that's not really a consolation prize when you consider the opponent. The secondary still let Smith blaze up and down the field as if he were Joe Montana and those question marks aren't going away anytime soon.  Now they have the challenge of shutting down a top five QB in Drew Brees.  Adding insult to injury is the play of their front seven. This group couldn't sustain very much pressure on Smith and gave up huge yards on the ground. Amazingly though, their offensive line has played pretty good through two weeks.  They are weak where they should be strong, and strong where they should be weak.  Such is life in Raider-Land.  Kevin Boss is "week to week" with a knee injury, McFadden is still practicing in shells, and who knows how long Campbell can play following his concussion. 

For the Saints, Sean Peyton is 8-2 ATS on the road and 4-1 in week 3 of the preseason.  That is a great combination going into Sunday's game. They didn't have their best outing against HOU last week, but the first-team offense finally showed signs of life with some nice drives.  The running game was solid and any remnants of Reggie Bush are all but forgotten.  The second-team offensive line did have issues protecting Chase Daniel, but the kid is a gamer and managed to make some plays.  The offense is the least of our concerns.  What Gregg Williams will be focusing on in this game is the play from his first-team defense.  After basking in the glow of their week 1 performance, they got outworked and outplayed all over the field against HOU.  Since this is the the official dress rehearsal for the regular season, you can bet that Williams will have his guys on point in a nationally televised game.  They'll do it without Aubrayo Franklin thanks to a MCL sprain, but their blitz-happy attack should be just fine against a hobbled and inconsistent OAK offense.  I would be willing to lay up to a touchdown for this game, but I'll gladly drop 4.5 and call it a day.  Prediction: Bank NO -4.5.