NFL futures, odds: New Orleans Saints enter the post-Sean Payton era with intrigue

For the first time since 2005, the New Orleans Saints enter an NFL season where neither Sean Payton or Drew Brees is associated with the organization. It marks the end of an era that saw them bring a championship to New Orleans in 2009 along with fairly consistent success over the past 15 or so years.

Payton’s final season is a tough one to judge as it wasn’t very pretty or entertaining. The defense was impressive, but the offense left a lot to be desired. Certainly, you can put some of that blame on the fact that Jameis Winston missed half of the season after tearing his ACL. The Saints were forced to start four different quarterbacks and we had the joy of watching Trevor Siemian on Thanksgiving and Ian Book on a random Monday night. But even when Winston was healthy, it was far from the kind of offense we got used to under Drew Brees.

With all of that being said, the Saints ended up winning nine games and almost snuck into the playoffs. Michael Thomas looks to finally be healthy. Chris Olave was drafted and Jarvis Landry was signed. What was arguably the worst group of pass-catching weapons in football last season now looks rather impressive. With Winston back healthy — assuming his sprained foot doesn't become an issue — you can certainly make the case for the Saints to be a dark-horse this upcoming season. Others are a lot more hesitant to put their trust into Winston and a rookie coach in Dennis Allen.

I don’t think anyone expects the Saints to compete for the No. 1 overall pick, and I think very few people think the Super Bowl is a realistic goal. Outside of those extremes, opinions vary wildly on New Orleans. Yahoo’s Frank Schwab has them ranked 19th in his preseason power rankings. The betting market views New Orleans as an average team as well, but it seems like bettors might be pretty high on the Saints entering the season.

New Orleans expected to compete for the playoffs

Last season, the New Orleans Saints won nine games. They did this despite the fact that they lost their starting quarterback for the second half of the season and were forced to start four quarterbacks over the course of the year. Sure, Sean Payton is gone, but new coach Dennis Allen has been around the team and learning from Payton for 12 years over the course of two separate stints.

The Saints’ win total for the upcoming season is set at 8.5 wins, meaning a repeat of last season would make the over side a winning bet. Most expect New Orleans to be improved with Winston healthy, the return of Michael Thomas and the additions of Olave, Landry, Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye. It’s no surprise that the majority of bettors at BetMGM love New Orleans to go over 8.5 wins. Currently, 86% of bets and 89% of the money is on the over.

New Orleans enters the year with +350 odds to win the NFC South. Those are the second-best odds in the division, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are rather sizable favorites. New Orleans is even-money to finish in second place in the division. Oddsmakers seem rather convinced the Buccaneers and Saints will occupy the top two spots in the division, as they are -225 favorites to do just that. Bettors are challenging the notion that Tampa Bay runs away with this division however, as 58% of bets are backing the Saints to win the NFC South.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Saints enter the new campaign as slight underdogs to make the playoffs this upcoming season. New Orleans is currently +120 to make the playoffs in 2022. At those odds, it's suggested the Saints make the playoffs just over 45% of the time. If you think the Saints sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard team in the NFC, you can bet New Orleans to occupy one of the wildcard spots at +325.

Saints are Super Bowl long shots

New Orleans enters the 2022 NFL season with 40-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Those are the 17th-best odds and tied with the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders. New Orleans fits that tier pretty well as it's a group of teams that are basically coin-flips to make the playoffs and then would need a whole lot of luck to go their way. They're almost certainly not winning it, but if you wanted to throw tomorrow's lunch money on those odds, I wouldn't want your sanity checked out or anything.

The Saints are 18-to-1 to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Those odds are tied for 8th best in the conference with the Vikings. Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Green Bay, San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia and Arizona are the seven teams with better odds. New Orleans is 20-to-1 to enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, tied with the Washington Commanders for the ninth best odds.

Saints awards and player props

What does the betting market think of some of the Saints' key players?

Jameis Winston

After missing the second half of last season with injury and then testing the free agent market, Jameis Winston returns as the starting quarterback in New Orleans this upcoming season. The weapons around him are greatly improved, but Winston is still a long-shot to win NFL MVP at 66-to-1. Those odds put him behind quarterbacks like Matt Ryan, Matt Jones, Tua Tagovailoa and Kirk Cousins. He's just ahead of quarterbacks like Carson Wentz and Trevor Lawrence.

While MVP might be a stretch, Winston might still have an award in his future. Jameis currently has the second-best odds to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year at +500. Only Derrick Henry has better odds. Winston is the second most popular bet to win the award currently, trailing only Christian McCaffrey.

Winston's season-long props for the upcoming season are set at 3749.5 passing yards, 26.5 passing touchdowns and 13.5 interceptions. Winston's 17-game pace before his injury last season had him at just over 2800 yards. He went over 26.5 touchdowns just twice in five seasons with Tampa Bay, but was on pace to do so last year. As far as interceptions, anyone who remembers Winston with the Buccaneers will not be surprised to learn he went over this number in four of five years. Supposedly he's worked on the turnovers with the Saints, so we'll see how that looks over a full season.

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 10: Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after a game against the Washington Football Team at FedExField on October 10, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston's health is paramount for the Saints. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Chris Olave

The Saints drafted Chris Olave in the first round out of Ohio State, and the former Buckeye is amongst the favorites to win offensive rookie of the year. Currently, Olave is 10-to-1 to win the award. Those odds are tied for fourth best with Drake London and Skyy Moore. Only Kenny Pickett, Breece Hall and Treylon Burks have better odds than Olave. Olave is currently the fourth-most popular bet at BetMGM behind Hall, Pickett and George Pickens. Olave's props for his rookie season are set at over/under 774.5 receiving yards and over/under 4.5 receiving touchdowns.

Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas has missed almost two full seasons due to injury, but when he was last healthy, he was arguably the very best receiver in the sport. He led the league in receiving yards and receptions in 2019. Thomas is currently 40-to-1 to lead the league in those categories this upcoming season. Thomas is 20-to-1 to win Comeback Player of the Year. Those odds are tied for eighth best with Allen Robinson and Marcus Mariota.

Other Saints players

Saints open season as sizable favorites

The New Orleans Saints open their 2022 season as sizable favorites on the road in Atlanta. Currently, the Saints are 5.5-point road favorites against the Falcons. New Orleans is a -225 favorite on the moneyline.

Atlanta projects to be one of the very worst teams in the league, so the Saints should roll here. I don't think they should have an issue covering the spread either, as there's simply very little talent on the Falcons's roster.

The total for the game is currently set at just 41.5-points. That's the lowest total for any game in Week 1.