Sports gambling handicappers continue to be impressed with the Saints explosive offense but their defense remains an online sports gambling concern.
New Orleans ranked number one in pro football last year for total offense but their defense ranked an alarming 25th as the Saints became one of the worst defensive teams to ever win the Super Bowl.
This year the Saints will also have the added pressure and burden of being the target, which is always the case for a Super Bowl champion. The last team to repeat as Super Bowl champs were the 2004 New England Patriots and last year the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers failed to even make the playoffs.
New Orleans coach Sean Payton has tried to emphasize the unique opportunity that the Saints have to repeat. He tries to sell to his team that this is “Our Time” and that “there’s only one team that has a chance to repeat.”
General manager Mickey Loomis understands the Saints are now the hunted in football betting rather than the hunter.
“When you’re the defending champs, everyone circles your name on their schedule,” said Loomis. “You’re going to get your opponent’s best effort. We know this year is going to be tougher than a year ago.”
Remarkably enough, unlike most Super Bowl champions, the Saints have their entire coaching staff intact and returning along with 20 out of their 22 starters from 2009.
Payton and quarterback Drew Brees talked with other past Super Bowl champions to try and get advice on how to fight complacency. Brees said that such efforts prove that the Saints will be ready for another title run in 2010.
“The fact is we recognize those things. Because we do, we’re not going to let it happen.”
As is usually the case the defending Super Bowl champion is among the big favorites with the NFL preseason odds. This adds to the concern of handicappers that the Saints could be over-valued and an overlay.
In fact the Saints lost a lot of value during the season last year as after a perfect 6-0 start both straight up and against the spread, the sports gambling public flocked to the Saints, who covered just 2 out of their final 10 regular season games as a result.