Moving from St. Louis to the Arizona desert may have warmed up the Cardinals, but it certainly cooled off their regular-season series with the New Orleans Saints. As the St. Louis Cardinals, they certainly found the Gateway to the West to be a gateway to victory over the Saints. The Cardinals won their first three games with New Orleans and overall were 10-5 straight up against New Orleans, leaving no doubt that St. Louis were the saints that would go marching in. Even in New Orleans, the Cards were a .500 team at 3-3.
My how a move changed the way things worked out. It's been a complete role reversal since the Cardinals left St. Louis for Arizona. The Saints have won 10 of 15 meetings, pulling the all-time series dead even at 15-15. The carnage of the Cardinals has proven especially distressing in New Orleans. The Cardinals likely head for Bourbon Street in search of bourbon following their bouts with the Saints. The Cardinals are 1-5 straight up in New Orleans since moving to Arizona.
He's Out - The Saints will start the NFL season minus their top running back. Mark Ingram was suspended by the league without pay the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. His absence will undoubtedly impact early-season lines and wagering on Saints games. Ingram led the Saints with 1124 yards on the ground last season, as New Orleans finished fifth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 129.4 yards per game.
Minus Ingram, the pressure will be ony 2017 NFL offensive rookie of the year Alvin Kamara to carry the ball, both literally and figuratively. In limited work last season, Kamara ran for 728 yards and eight touchdowns on just 120 carries, averaging an astonishing 6.1 yards per carry. He added 826 yards receiving and five touchdowns on 81 catches, as Ingram and Kamara became the first running back tandem in NFL history to both record 1500 yards from scrimmage in the same season.
Postseason Potential - The Saints won the NFC South Division title in 2017, and with that powerful running game coupled with the savvy of Drew Brees at quarterback, not to mention the 10th-best scoring defense in the NFL, a unit that features the league's defensive rookie of the year in cornerback Marshon Lattimore, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if the Saints were to go marching right back into postseason play in 2018, even though the NFC South is the NFL's deepest division.
Bovada puts the Saints at -135 to make the playoffs this season. Odds are +105 that they will fail to reach the postseason. The quality of the NFC South is evident in the odds Bovada places on the division's outcome. The Saints are slight favorites to win their second straight divisional crown at +180, just ahead of the 2016 division champ Atlanta Falcons (+185). The Carolina Panthers, like the Falcons an NFC wildcard team last season, check in at +290. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+600) trail the field.
Cardiac Cards - What about the Cardinals? Could they see a return to postseason play in 2018, a place where they've earned a spot twice in the previous four seasons? With a new coach (Steven Wilks) and new No. 1 quarterback, journeyman Sam Bradford, it's hard to know what to expect from the Cardinals in 2018. A mediocre 15-16-1 the past two seasons, Bovada puts the Cardinals as the longshot to win the NFC West at +1500. The Cards are +750 to make the playoffs, and -1500 to miss the postseason.
Just Joshing - In all likelihood, Bradford is just keeping the spot under center warm until Josh Rosen warms up to the task of leading the Cardinals. Arizona's first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the former UCLA quarterback will be a sensation if his talents equal his bravado. He's a confident kid with a powerful arm and isn't afraid to tell you about it. At +900, BetOnline slots Rosen in as their co-third choice in their NFL offensive rookie of the year future book, alongside another rookie QB, Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills.
It's A Brees - When pondering the potential suitors for the NFL's MVP Award, considering the quality of the Saints team, especially their potent offense, you'd be foolish to sleep on Saints QB Drew Brees. Third all-time in the NFL in touchdown passes with 488, perhaps you think that Brees has lost a step at the age of 39. Well, think again. New England's Tom Brady won the MVP last season at the age of 40, and Brees completed more passes of 20-plus yards in 2017 (72) than Brady (62).
If you line shop, you will find some pretty fair odds on Brees at the various sportsbooks in their NFL future books on the MVP Award. BetOnline has Brees as their co-fifth choice at +1600. Bovada pegs Brees as their fourth choice at odds of +1500. MyBookie is a little more bullish on Brees, slotting him in as their fourth choice at +750, and they also offer +500 odds on Brees leading the NFL in passing yardage. TopBet likes Brees as the No. 4 betting choice in their NFL MVP future book at odds of +800.
How Much For Johnson? - BetOnline is offering a player performance season prop wagering opportunity on Cardinals running back David Johnson's ground gains in 2018. They've set the total on Johnson's rushing yardage at 900, with odds of -150 if he goes over that number and +120 should he stay below 900 yards. Johnson dislocated his wrist in the 2017 season opener against the Detroit Lions and didn't play again all season, finishing the year with just 23 yards on 11 carries.
In 2016, a healthy Johnson started all 16 games and rushed for 1239 yards. As a rookie in 2015, he started five of 16 games and finsihed with with 581 yards. This is an intriguing wager because there is a very small sample size to work with. But if he's healthy, it's hard to believe Johnson won't be a workhorse for the Cardinals this season.