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New Orleans Saints 2023 Season Preview Analysis, Odds & Best –Bet for Win Totals 


NFL Pick: 2023 New Orleans Saints Over 9.5 Wins (+110) at BetRivers


The New Orleans Saints are hoping to be set at the quarterback position for the next several years after adding Derek Carr from the Raiders. For the first time in his career, Carr should be the best quarterback in a division as the NFC South has gone through a major rebuild. 

Some things had to change after the division was won by an 8-9 team with everyone else stuck at 7-10. But Tom Brady retired, the 2023 Carolina Panthers have a rookie quarterback and new head coach, and no one knows what Desmond Ridder will do with this opportunity in 2023 with the Atlanta Falcons

Carr may not have a playoff win like Baker Mayfield had in Cleveland, but he is more consistent, the Saints could have the best defense in the division, and the schedule looks like a massive gift. 

The over/under at top online sportsbooks is 9.5 wins, but this team has a great shot to overshoot that by a couple wins thanks to masterful timing if they can take advantage of the situation this year. 


Significant Changes

The Saints signed Derek Carr to a 4-year deal worth up to $150 million. He is the key to their turnaround attempt in 2023, but hopefully, it goes better than his last run with Allen as his head coach in Oakland. Allen was fired after just 4 games into Carr’s rookie season in 2014. 

Time has likely made both wiser, but the move from the Raiders to the Saints is unlikely to make Carr that much better of a quarterback. But his job should be a little easier this season. 

The Derek Carr Enigma

Ask which quarterback in NFL history has the most 4th-quarter comeback wins in a player’s first 10 seasons, and you will probably get answers like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Joe Montana. 

But the answer, shockingly, is Derek Carr with 28 comeback wins. Even crazier is that Carr has only played in 9 seasons, but he already has the record through 10 years. 

Some of this is opportunity as Carr has done a lot of trailing in his career with the Raiders, a 9-year stint that produced 2 postseasons and no playoff wins. 

Comeback Hero

But Carr’s record at comeback opportunities is solid at 28-41 (.406). Only 6 active starters have a higher winning percentage, and these are games where the quarterback had the ball in the 4th quarter or overtime with a deficit of 1-to-8 points. 

In all comeback and game-winning drive opportunities, Carr’s record is 34-42 (.447), which ranks No. 8 among active starters (min. 12 games). But the strangest part about this is that Carr’s record in games where he is tied or down one score late is better than his record in games that weren’t that close. 

Feeling the Pressure

In those games, Carr is only 29-38 (.433), a decline of 1.4 percentage points in win rate. This is very unusual and makes Carr a massive outlier. Here are some splits for other quarterbacks relatable to the Saints in their career win percentage in clutch games vs. non-clutch games. 

Note the number in parenthesis next to their names that shows the increase in win percentage points in non-clutch games. 

  1. Baker Mayfield: (+31.9%): 8-22 (.267) in clutch games, 24-17 (.585) in non-clutch games
  2. Drew Brees: (+27.5%): 57-73 (.438) in clutch games, 124-50 (.713) in non-clutch games 
  3. Jameis Winston: (+26.6%): 13-30 (.302) in clutch games, 21-16 (.568) in non-clutch games 
  4. Andy Dalton: (+22.9%): 29-47-2 (.385) in clutch games, 54-34 (.614) in non-clutch games 
  5. Matthew Stafford: (+3.5%): 45-54-1 (.455) in clutch games, 48-50 (.490) in non-clutch games 
  6. Derek Carr: (-1.4%): 34-42 (.447) in clutch games, 29-38 (.433) in non-clutch games 

Suddenly, it makes sense why Carr’s Raiders have an NFL-low 16 wins by 9-plus points since 2014. This also suggests that Carr is the ultimate “win close, lose big” quarterback because most players are going to be at least 20 percentage points higher in non-clutch games, which is about how often they’ll be on the right side of games that were not close. 

But Carr is only close to Matthew Stafford, who he is probably looking at as a model for his career. Stafford was in Detroit for 12 years where he rarely had great team support, and he did not have a playoff win. But as soon as he went to the Rams in 2021, he won the Super Bowl with his best season.

Same Ending?

Carr would love that ending in New Orleans, but it is hard to say this roster has a Cooper Kupp or Aaron Donald on it. Dennis Allen and his staff are also not Sean McVay and his guys. 

But Carr is going to have weapons with Chris Olave, Alvin Kamara (after his 3-game suspension), Jamaal Williams, and hopefully Michael Thomas can stay healthy this year. Juwan Johnson is improving at tight end after converting from wide receiver. 

Defensive Backup

The defense is what should interest Carr most, because he never had a good one with the Raiders. In fact, the Raiders were routinely in the bottom quarter of the league. Even if the Saints were on the fringes of the top 10 this year, it would be the best defense Carr’s ever had. 

Chances are solid for the Saints to be an above-average defense. They brought back most of their key guys, including Cameron Jordan for the pass rush and Marshon Lattimore in the secondary. They also added defensive line depth and future starters in the draft with Bryan Bresee and Isaiah Foskey. 

But the secret weapon for Carr, Allen, and the defense is the 2023 schedule.  


2023 Schedule Analysis

It is not uncommon to find an NFL team that inflates its record by beating up on a weak schedule.  

Take the 2017 Jaguars, for example. Andrew Luck missed that entire season for the Colts, and rookie sensation Deshaun Watson tore his ACL. This led to a cakewalk division for the Jaguars, who also had the No. 1 defense, and they made it as far as the AFC Championship Game despite having Blake Bortles at quarterback. But the Jaguars would not return to the playoffs until 2022. 

Even the 2022 Vikings, the only team to win 13 games despite a negative scoring differential, did not really beat any good teams outside of Buffalo, a game that required the most egregious fumble in a late-game situation in over 40 years in the NFL. 

One of Them

The 2023 Saints can be one of these teams because they are not scheduled to face any of the top 10 teams in Super Bowl odds.  

Their toughest opponents are the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Detroit Lions in Week 7 and Week 13 respectively, a pair of franchises not known for living up to hype. The Saints will not have to deal with:

  1. Eagles
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Buffalo Bills
  6. Cincinnati Bengals
  7. New York Jets
  8. Baltimore Ravens
  9. Miami Dolphins
  10. Los Angeles Chargers 

That also means they won’t face the quarterbacks of those teams, which is great news for a defense that will instead get 6 games against Bryce Young (rookie), Baker Mayfield (journeyman status achieved), and Desmond Ridder (wild card). The Saints are also scheduled to face Jordan Love (Packers), Mac Jones (Patriots), rookie C.J. Stroud (Texans), rookie Anthony Richardson (Colts), and Justin Fields (Bears).  

This is a dream scenario for Carr, who was on a Raiders team that had the worst scoring differential in the NFL in 2014-22 in games against teams that made the playoffs. Carr’s Raiders were the only team to get outscored by an average of more than 10 points in such games. 

The Pick

But in 2023, the Saints are unlikely to face many elite teams, and Carr could look “clutch” by leading several game-winning drives in games against mediocre teams where the defense kept it close and winnable. The Saints can get to double-digit wins, reclaim the NFC South, and host a playoff game where they might get their first real test of the season. 

The Saints are not a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2023, but this year is their golden opportunity to win the NFC South before the other teams start putting things together for the future. This should be one of the best value bets for your NFL ATS best bets. 

NFL Pick: 2023 New Orleans Saints Over 9.5 Wins (+110) at BetRivers


2022 Recap: Another Season Ended by Tampa Bay         

The Saints managed to show us right away how much they missed having a coach like Sean Payton and his offensive prowess. New Orleans scored just 330 points last year, the team’s first season averaging under 20 points per game since the Hurricane Katrina season in 2005, a year prior to Payton’s arrival.  

At no point last year did the Saints look like a playoff team, but by virtue of playing in the NFC South, they were never out of division title contention even when they were 4-8 going into December.  

Missed Opportunity

Week 13 became the missed opportunity of the season when the Saints blew a 16-3 lead late in the 4th quarter in Tampa Bay on a Monday night. The offense was just as much to blame as the defense for not putting the game away that night. 

The Buccaneers also won the first matchup earlier in the season thanks to 5 turnovers from the Saints. That soon led to Andy Dalton taking over for Jameis Winston at quarterback, but there was little to feel good about for this unit outside of rookie wideout Chris Olave looking like a stud in Year 1. Well worth the high draft pick. 

But on defense, that unit at least looked good for Dennis Allen, the coordinator promoted to head coach last year. He had high rankings in most defensive categories, though the Saints could surely do better than next to last in takeaways and 24th on 3rd down. 

Only One Better Team

But over the last 8 games of the regular season, the Saints allowed 118 points. The only team that did better was San Francisco (114), and that would not have been the case had the Saints not lost 13-0 to the 49ers in Week 12, another major failure by the offense. 

In Week 18, the Saints lost 10-7 at home to Carolina to finish 7-10. But with nemesis Tom Brady off to retirement, the NFC South is wide open again, and the Saints look like the team best equipped to win it in 2023. 


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