The only thing that would be better about Monday Night Football is if there were two games, not just one. That’s why picture-in-picture and split screens were invented.
For now, football fans will have to settle for just one game, and tonight’s NFL matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Las Vegas Raiders should provide enough action to fill both screens.
The Saints Look To Improve
The Saints did well enough in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be able to claim the top spot of the NFC South, but not well enough that they could feel good about their performance. Quarterback Drew Brees, who could be close to winding up his career on the field, wants to go out with a bang and is working hard to bring the Saints together this season. Tonight’s game is going to be a more accurate test of the Saints’ strengths.
For starters, the Saints are playing without wide receiver Michael Thomas, out because of an ankle injury. Linebacker Chase Hansen and defensive end Marcus Davenport are both sidelined due to their respective hip and elbow injuries. Playing the game in Las Vegas at the new Allegiant Stadium, better known as the “Roomba” stadium (or the Death Star if you’re Jon Gruden), the Saints need to come out with everything they have from the first play if they want to remain dominant.
Undoubtedly, the Saints are going to rely much more on tight end Jared Cook, who had five catches in Week 1, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and running back Alvin Kamara after losing Thomas. They have already begun working on different strategies to make them more active, and the Raiders aren’t planning on letting them run as freely as they did against the Bucs.
The good news is that the Raiders has a few issues with its secondary that will, if the Saints break through, present problems. Brees is going to have to step up and be willing to take more chances, as long as he can maintain the accuracy that has made him one of the best QBs in the league year after year.
The Raiders Look To Conquer
The Raiders didn’t have too much difficulty with the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, but perhaps that’s because sky blue is the new brown. Tonight is going to be a better test of the team’s capabilities and coach Gruden’s leadership. The Raiders have a strong running game, which is going to come in handy as receivers are stopped due to strong man-to-man coverage coming from the Saints.
Under normal circumstances, the Raiders have an offensive line that provides the holes necessary for its backs. However, starting tackle Trent Brown, as well as his backup, is listed as doubtful. As a result, Las Vegas could have to put a guard in to cover the right tackle spot, which is often a recipe for disaster. He would be responsible for keeping Saints pass rusher Cameron Jordan from breaking through, and Jordan is an expert at finding the gaps. Expect to see a lot of play-action fakes coming from QB Derek Carr.
It Comes Down To The Wire
The Saints and the Raiders are both dealing with injuries that are putting them at a disadvantage. There could be a few sneak attacks worked into the playbooks tonight to keep everyone on their toes, which is going to lead to some interesting moves. The Saints are getting -228 as the clear favorites, due in part to its more experienced lineup, even without Thomas.
The Raiders are looking at +190, and there’s not much reason to see an upset here. The +5.5 (-110) spread for the Raiders is a better option for a small wager, especially since they have gone 6-2 against the spread at home as underdogs. Of course, that was at a different stadium. The Over/Under of 48.5 (-110) seems to be exceptionally optimistic and taking the Under is a good way to add some extra cash to the bank.