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After occupying diverse ends of the competitive spectrum last season, NFC championship contender New Orleans visits AFC also-ran New York in week three preseason action.
In regular season play, this contest would take a ridiculous lean toward the Saints. However, as 40-year-old Drew Brees readies for his 19th NFL campaign, and with much of his team’s roster already set, this afternoon the Jets will enjoy an even playing field.
Brees has yet to take a 2019 preseason snap and his distant backup, Teddy Bridgewater, has been inconsistent throughout the Saints’ mediocre performances. Conversely, with more available roster spots, New York’s exhibition intensity level is naturally higher. This is evidenced by the Jets’ recent win over Atlanta and a hard-fought loss to the Giants. New Orleans dropped a week one meeting vs. Minnesota but rallied for a thrilling week two win against San Diego.
Darnold Shines Against Falcons
Last year’s #3 overall pick Sam Darnold picked up vs. Atlanta where he left off at the end of his rookie campaign. Darnold completed five-of-seven passes for 46 yards before his primary backup Luke Falk added 41 yards and a scoring strike.
Meanwhile, New York’s revamped defense pressed hard, gaining five sacks and an interception to highlight a bend-don’t-break performance. Atlanta scored just ten points though they enjoyed a plus-eleven minute time of possession advantage.
And while defense won the day, it was Darnold’s consistency which provided greater hope among Jets Nation.
Keep slingin' that thing, Sam. #TakeFlight
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 16, 2019
Amid hype last season Darnold struggled behind center, tossing 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Facing a wall as the year wound down, it wasn’t until week 13 that Darnold clicked while trailing Buffalo in the fourth quarter. During those crunch-time minutes, Darnold orchestrated his first game-winning drive before closing the season strong by throwing six touchdowns against one pick for 931 yards and a 64 percent completion percentage over his final four starts.
Darnold will no doubt see more snaps today vs. New Orleans while camp invites and marginal signings battle to survive another cut.
Hill Saves The Day
With veteran Drew Brees sitting out the entire preseason thus far, the Saints have used this exhibition calendar to ready their legs for another deep playoff run. After dropping a week one skirmish vs. Minnesota, New Orleans trailed the Chargers late before third-string QB Taysom Hill opened eyes around the league as regular backup Teddy Bridgewater took limited snaps due to illness.
Hill threw two second-half touchdowns while scrambling for 53 yards and New Orleans edged San Diego 19-17. If Hill’s heroics didn’t spark a backup QB-battle conversation, they will nonetheless gain interest among rival GM’s for his services.
“The thing I kept reiterating in the huddle is ‘we are going to have an opportunity to win this football game',”
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) August 19, 2019
Currently, the Saints have limited open spots among their 53-man roster heading into the latter stages of August. Hill exemplified the preseason underdog spirit by making the most of his on-field opportunity. As two preseason games remain, expect Brees to again remain sidelined so Bridgewater, Hill and other roster and practice squad hopefuls can vie for their lifelong dream of securing an NFL contract.
Update (8/24/19): Brees will play some in this game.
“I like reps,” Brees said. “I like reps during practice. I like reps in games, especially. I also understand the balance of, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ At the end of the day, the most important thing is being as healthy and prepared as you can be for Week 1 of the regular season, when games begin to count.
“I also understand the desire and need to develop young players, to give guys reps at all different positions. The last couple of years, I’ve just gotten really one game, maybe two, in the preseason. I’m fine with that. But I want it to be quality, I want us to be sharp.”
- Jets are 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
- Jets are 0-3-2 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
- Saints are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
- Saints are 20-7 ATS in their last 27 road games.
Updated on Aug 24 at 8:40am EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The game has gone from a pick to the Saints -3 and that plays right along with the fact that New Orleans got 73% of the bets.
Injury / Weather Report
New Orleans’ Impact Injury Report
Out: DT Sheldon Rankins and LB Chase Hansen
New York’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: DB Kyron Brown, OL Brent Qvale and OT Brandon Shell
Out: DB Trumaine Johnson, DL Charles Tapper, DB Bless Austin, and RB Jalin Moore.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I’m rolling with the Saints today on talent alone even though Brees will likely sit and Darnold may play an entire quarter. I like the forming competitive dynamic between New Orleans backup QB’s Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill. Look for that pair to push each other to greater levels and put New York’s defense on its heels. The action should be see-saw and we will witness a veteran squad fine-tuning itself and an upstart team learning more about its current personnel. Again, I believe Bridgewater and Hill, plus New Orleans’ proven coaching staff, can avail itself against New York’s confusion.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
Full-Game Total Pick
I’ll take the over here as New York has put up 26.5 points per game this preseason while New Orleans is averaging 22 points per exhibition contest. The Saints figure to score more this week against the Jets’ defense, which struggled mightily last season. These teams will have no trouble going over the 42.5 total set for this week’s tilt.