Welcome to the Monday Night Football betting breakdown, where each week I’ll provide a detailed betting overview of the upcoming Monday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. I’ll also highlight at least one player- or game-based prop each week that I feel has profit potential.
The 2020 Week 2 MNF schedule features an intriguing inter-conference battle between the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders. The Silver and Black will be playing for the first time in new Allegiant Stadium, albeit without fans.
Both teams are coming off Week 1 victories against NFC South opponents. The Saints made the bigger splash with a 34-23 win over the Buccaneers, spoiling Tom Brady’s Tampa debut. Meanwhile, the Raiders toppled the Panthers, 34-30, in a see-saw battle.
All betting takes will be classified as a “pick” or “lean”, with considerations such as relevant injuries, past betting trends and recent performances of each team leading up to the game factoring in.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to MNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Monday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
Saints vs. Raiders odds
Inter-conference clashes always carry an extra level of intrigue because of the relative unfamiliarity between two squads that typically play each other only once every four seasons. In the case of New Orleans and Las Vegas, Drew Brees and Derek Carr also faced off the last time these two squads met in Week 1 of the 2016 season, a 35-34 Raiders win. However, each team’s supporting casts have naturally changed significantly since then.
The Saints’ aforementioned toppling of the Bucs in Week 1 came with a price. New Orleans saw All-Pro WR Michael Thomas suffer a significant ankle sprain. The injury was initially projected to keep him out for multiple games. Instead, Thomas is already talking about a potential return for this contest. If that proves a bit unrealistic, coach Sean Payton may opt to continue on the track that saw New Orleans post the fifth-lowest pass-play rate (48.5 percent) in the NFL last year.
That said, that could prove to be an uphill battle against a Raiders team that held Christian McCaffrey to a respectable 4.2 yards per carry in the opener and limited teams to 98.1 rushing yards per contest in 2019. The potential absence of Vegas linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) could put a dent in the Raiders’ rush defense, given his typically strong run-stopping and tackling skills.
As an alternate route to offensive success, Payton can obviously lean a bit heavier on Brees’ prolific arm. Even if Thomas is unavailable, the Saints went out this offseason and added some key depth at a previously lacking No. 2 receiver spot by snagging the savvy and still speedy Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. He and TE Jared Cook combined for eight catches, 95 receiving yards and a touchdown against Tampa while Thomas produced just a 3-17 line. Notably, the Saints offense still managed to produce 27 points with a virtual dud from their star wideout.
Carr and the Raiders have a much tougher assignment on tap than in Week 1. Josh Jacobs had his way with the shaky Panthers defense to the tune of 139 total yards and three rushing TDs. He’s now facing a Saints defense that allowed the second-fewest rush yards (78.8) per road game last season and that held the Bucs to 3.3 yards per carry in the opener.
If Jacobs is largely neutralized, Carr could also have a tricky time finding success through the air. New Orleans’ secondary is back at full strength after slot corner P.J. Williams (hamstring) missed Week 1. The starting quartet of Janoris Jenkins – who pick-sixed Brady a week ago – Marshon Lattimore, Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Williams strikes a certain amount of trepidation in any QB. The fact speedy rookie WR Henry Ruggs could miss or be limited in this game due to his Week 1 knee injury only bleakens the outlook.
The Pick: Saints moneyline (-250 or better)
MNF Point Spread
The Saints may have more difficulty separating than usual if Thomas is unavailable. However, Alvin Kamara’s ability to make a sizable impact in the passing game can never be underestimated. The Raiders also gave up an 88-750-6 line through the air to RBs last season.
The Saints were 11-5 (NFL-best 68.8 percent) against the spread last season, including 7-1 (87.5 percent) as a road team, and are 1-0 versus the number thus far this season. New Orleans was also 3-1 (75.0 percent) ATS in inter-conference matchups in 2019.
The Raiders were 8-8 against the spread last season, including 3-4 (42.9 percent) as a home team. Las Vegas was also 2-2 ATS in 2019 interconference matchups and is 1-0 versus the number against NFC opponents thus far this season.
While the number is relatively elevated, I see New Orleans having enough to cover it, even if only slightly.
The Pick: Saints -5.5 or better
MNF Over/Under Total
The total is one of the heftier ones of Week 2, even with the uncertainty regarding Thomas and Ruggs. It checks in as the third highest on the slate as of Friday afternoon.
The Over was 9-7 (56.2 percent) in the Saints’ games last season, including 5-3 (62.5 percent) in their away games, and is 1-0 thus far this season.
Then, the Over was 7-9 (43.8 percent) in the Raiders’ games last season, including 3-4 (42.9 percent) in their home games, and is 1-0 thus far this season.
Absences by Thomas and/or Ruggs may make this number harder to reach, but I’m leaning toward enough big plays occurring for it to be exceeded.
The Lean: Over 49.5 points or better
Best MNF Prop Bet
Saints to score first and win (+100 or better)
In line with my Saints moneyline bet, I see this prop as one viable enough to take a flyer on. The Saints didn’t score first against Brady and the Bucs, but they averaged the fourth-most first-quarter points (6.6) per road game last season and also limited their hosts to just 3.9 points per opening period. Meanwhile, the Raiders were ranked in the NFL’s bottom half with 12.5 points per first half allowed.