The New Orleans Saints weren't in a bad spot going into Week 16.
Then COVID-19 changed those plans.
The Saints aren't alone in lamenting how COVID-19 affected their season right near the end. But they were hit hard. Quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian are on the COVID-19 list. That means rookie Ian Book will make his NFL debut on Monday night. The Dolphins flipped to 3-point favorites at BetMGM.
It's hard to argue with the line change. The Saints offense was already limited with Hill or Siemian at quarterback. It'll be really tough to move the ball with a fourth-round pick taking his first NFL snaps against a Dolphins defense that has played a lot better during a six-game winning streak.
If you want to make a case for the Saints, here goes: They have a very good defense that just shut out Tom Brady, Sean Payton is a fantastic coach who will get the most out of Book and the Dolphins' winning streak has been done mostly against inferior competition. It's possible the defense, helped out by a loud Superdome crowd, makes enough plays to help out the offense and win what should be an ugly game.
I'll go with Miami, because it's hard to depend on a Saints offense that isn't that good to begin with and will start a rookie. Like most of the latter portion of the NFL season, COVID-19 absences have changed the landscape.
Here's the first look at the betting slate for Monday:
What about some MNF props?
It seems too obvious, but I'll take the over on Alvin Kamara's rushing and receiving yards, which is 84.5 at BetMGM. Kamara has had some huge workloads when the Saints need it, and Sean Payton has to know Kamara gaining 100 total yards is his only real path to victory. Whatever offense the Saints generate will go through Kamara.
I do like the Saints defense to play well in what should be a grind-it-out game. Therefore, I'll go with Tua Tagovailoa under 236.5 passing yards and under 47.5 receiving yards for DeVante Parker. I think the Saints will use top corner Marshon Lattimore on Parker and he'll have a quiet night.
What's still playing on Monday?
There's no NHL, there are no college basketball games involving a top-25 team (Brown at Syracuse is the only notable game on the entire schedule) and one of the two college bowl games is canceled.
The NBA is still going, and there are seven games scheduled. Be sure to check them all if you want to bet and see who is on or off the COVID-19 list. Most NBA teams have been without key players lately.
Who's playing in the bowl game?
It's a morning start at the Quick Lane Bowl. Western Michigan and Nevada will kick off at 11 a.m. ET. This game won't be as fun as it should be, after Nevada quarterback Carson Strong opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. He's a two-time Mountain West player of the year.
With Strong out, Western Michigan is favored by 7 at BetMGM. WMU has played in a lot of high-scoring games so we might get a fun one. What else are you doing on your lunch hour Monday anyway?
What's the best bet?
This is another one that seems a bit too obvious, but under 37 in the Dolphins-Saints game is the best bet. It's possible the defenses set up some short fields and quick scores, but this game has 17-10 vibes all over it.