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 Week 5 edition of Monday Night Football features an interconference showdown between the 1-3 Los Angeles Chargers and the 2-2 New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome The two squads most recently met in Week 4 of the 2016 season, a wild 35-34 win for the Saints in the Chargers’ previous home of Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Drew Brees threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns in that contest, with one of those going to Michael Thomas.
Despite their poor record, the Chargers have plenty of reason for optimism due to rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. He nearly led a road upset of the Buccaneers in Week 4 despite playing without speed threat Mike Williams (hamstring). The Saints were able to bounce back from a disappointing Week 3 home loss to the Packers to score a road victory over the Lions in Week 4 while playing without Thomas (ankle) and starting cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) and Janoris Jenkins shoulder).
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. Chargers odds
Herbert has exceeded expectations for the Chargers after being thrust into emergency duty in Week 2. The rookie sixth overall pick fell just 10 yards short against the Buccaneers of opening his career with three consecutive 300-yard efforts. Herbert has thrown an interception in each game thus far, but what’s been particularly impressive is his ability to keep his head about him even when losing some potent weapons. Against Tamp, the Oregon product, already playing sans Williams, also lost Austin Ekeler early to a serious hamstring injury. Undeterred, he hit unknowns Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson for a pair of 50-yard-plus touchdown passes to keep Los Angeles competitive until the waning moments of the contest.
In Week 5, the injury situation may actually tilt in his favor. Lattimore and Jenkins may be game-time calls. Safety Malcolm Jenkins (knee) could also be a 50/50 proposition to suit up, meaning the availability of three-fourths of New Orleans’ starting defensive backfield is in question. Then, Williams looks like he may be trending up toward returning for Los Angeles after jumping back into practice this week. However, his status may also come down to pregame warmups.
Ekeler definitely won’t be available Monday or for several more games. Rookie Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson are set to helm the backfield for the foreseeable future. Both players are solid as runners and receivers, although neither has Ekeler’s explosiveness. They also draw the short straw this week — the Saints are allowing just 3.6 yards per carry to RBs.
A return to action by Thomas (UPDATE, 10/11: Thomas is now ruled out) and Jared Cook (groin) would give Brees a full arsenal to attack a Chargers secondary that gave up five touchdown passes to Tom Brady a week ago. One silver lining in Thomas’ absence has been the opportunity it gave Brees to develop rapport with offseason arrival Emmanuel Sanders. The veteran started slow but has a solid 10-149-1 line the last two games.
Alvin Kamara continues to be the team’s most valuable non-QB skill player, however. He already boasts 557 total yards and seven total TDs through four games. While the star running back’s overall workload might go down a tick if his pair of injured teammates return to the fold Monday night, the 29-154-2 line Los Angeles has already surrendered to running backs through the air bodes well for Kamara.
Provided at least Cook and at least half the starting secondary is available for New Orleans, I lean toward the Saints pulling off the home win against the rookie QB.
The Pick: Saints moneyline (-390 or better)
MNF Point Spread
The Chargers are 3-1 (75.0 percent) against the spread this season, including 2-0 as a road team and 1-1 in interconference matchups.
The Saints are 2-2 against the spread this season, including 1-1 as a home team and 0-1 in interconference matchups.
Much like last Monday night’s Falcons-Packers showdown, the home team is a hefty favorite here. The Chargers are a better-quality squad than Atlanta, but if New Orleans has Thomas and at least two of its three ailing secondary members back, I lean toward them doing enough to cover.
The Lean: Saints -7 or better
MNF Over/Under Total
This is a week with plenty of 50-plus-point projected totals, so the number doesn’t stand out as much as it might in other slates.
The Over is 1-3 (25.0 percent) in Los Angeles’s games this season, including 1-1 in its road games and 1-1 in its interconference matchups.
Then, the Over is 4-0 in New Orleans’s games this season, including 2-0 in its home games and 1-0 in its interconference matchups.
The return of Thomas would naturally boost scoring expectations for the Saints, and the same is true to a degree with respect to Williams jumping back into action for the Chargers. However, Ekeler undeniably leaves a big void for the Bolts and puts a bit more pressure on Herbert. The Chargers defense is also better than what it showed in Week 4. While I do think points will be scored here, I’m leaning toward the total falling just a bit short of the 50.05 in a game I think New Orleans will be able to ice late with a ground-based attack.
The Lean: Under 50.5 points or better
Best MNF Prop Bets
Latavius Murray Over 38.5 rushing yards (-112 or better)
The Chargers come in allowing 4.3 yards per carry to RBs over their first four games. Murray has logged double-digit rush attempts in three of his first four games, including the last two Thomas has missed, and he’s posted 48 or more rushing yards in three contests overall.
Alvin Kamara Over 46.5 receiving yards (-125 or better)
With Thomas now confirmed out, Kamara should be in line for another busy night through the air along the lines of two of the three games that Thomas has already missed. Kamara has nine and 14 targets in those contests, and he also saw eight in Week 1 with Thomas available. The Chargers also come in having allowed the fifth-most receptions to RBs (29) over their first four games.