New Orleans Saints: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The New Orleans Saints were born into the NFL in 1967 as the league’s 16th franchise. Named for the great jazz song “When the Saints Go Marching In” and a nod to the city’s largely-Catholic population, the Saints were largely an afterthought during their first few decades of existence.
Despite employing QB Archie Manning – perhaps more well known for his sons’ exploits than his own – the Saints struggled to compete. It wasn’t until 1979 that they posted an even-.500 record, and even then, the following season New Orleans went 1-15. Perhaps fittingly, their most notable achievement was kicker Tom Dempsey kicking a then-NFL record 63-yard field goal against Detroit in 1970.
The Saints’ first-ever winning season came twenty years after the franchise had began, in 1987, when they finished 12-3, good for second in the NFC West behind the 13-2 San Francisco 49ers. It looked as if the New Orleans Saints odds had turned around. However, a bet on the New Orleans Saints to win their first playoff game would not pay, as the team was shockingly pummeled by Minnesota in the wildcard round, 44-10. The New Orleans Saints odds in that game? 6.5-point favorites.
But head coach Jim Mora was undeterred by the team’s failure. Mora led the Saints to three more playoff appearances between 1990-1992, including their first-ever division title in 1991. Those teams were buoyed by LB Pat Swilling and QB Bobby Hebert. However, a bet on the New Orleans Saints to win their first playoff game would not pay, as the team would be bounced in the wild card round in all three seasons, despite being favorites in two of them.
Mora would last until 1996, and the team would replace him with legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka. Unfortunately, Ditka’s most famous move would ultimately be trading his entire draft for Texas RB Ricky Williams. While Williams had a decent career in New Orleans, Ditka would go 3-13 the following season and be relieved of his coaching duties.
The Saints would turn to Steelers’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to lead the team, and the move paid immediate dividends. New Orleans won their second division title, going 10-6. In the first round of the playoffs, they faced the Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams. Finally, a bet on the New Orleans Saints to win a playoff game would pay, as the Saints ended the Rams’ attempt at a repeat with a 31-28 win for the Saints’ first-ever playoff victory.
The New Orleans Saints odds to continue their run were long, however, as they next travelled to Minnesota as 8-point underdogs. Sure enough, a bet on the New Orleans Saints to win or cover would fail to pay, as the Vikings beat them 34-16.
The Saints were up for sustained success, but the New Orleans Saints odds didn’t work out in their favor. Haslett didn’t make it back to the playoffs in the five other seasons in which he coached, finally being relieved of his duties after a 3-13 season in 2005. In Haslett’s defense, the Saints were a wandering team that season, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Superdome. Perhaps ownership was ready to make a move regardless, and it was a good thing that they did.
To improve the New Orleans Saints odds of becoming one of the league’s premier franchises, the team hired Giants’ offensive coordinator Sean Payton to coach the team. In addition, they signed former Chargers QB Drew Brees to a six-year contract.
Much like his predecessor, Payton also won a division title in his first season. However, unlike his predecessor, he also took the Saints farther than they had ever gone before – to the conference championship game. There, they played the #1-seeded Chicago Bears. A bet on the New Orleans Saints to make their first Super Bowl would not pay, however, as the Bears blew out the Saints, 39-14, to advance to Super Bowl XLI.
Payton’s career started to resemble Haslett’s after he missed the playoffs in the two seasons following his maiden voyage. However, in 2009, Payton changed the direction of his career – and the Saints franchise.
That year, Brees led the #1-ranked offense to a 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC. After a divisional round dismantling of the Arizona Cardinals, the Saints found themselves up against the Minnesota Vikings yet again, this time in the NFC title game. A bet on the New Orleans Saints to win cover would not pay… but a bet on the New Orleans Saints to win would, as the 3.5-point favorite Saints won in overtime, 31-28, to advance to their first ever Super Bowl.
The New Orleans Saints odds to win Super Bowl XLIV weren’t great, as Archie Manning’s son Peyton brought his Indianapolis Colts to Dolphin Stadium as 4.5-point favorites. However, buoyed by a surprise onside kick to start the second half, the Saints turned a 10-6 half time deficit into a 31-17 victory and the team’s first-ever world championship.
Payton had varied levels of success in the years after his Super Bowl triumph. The Saints have won four division titles since 2009, including the last three. On the flip side, Payton spent 2012 suspended for his role in Bountygate, and has only brought the team to a single conference championship game since, in 2018, when they lost to the Los Angeles Rams in overtime (after a controversial no-call during the Saints final drive of the game). After home playoff losses to Minnesota (2019) and Tampa Bay (2020), Brees retired with plenty of statistical records but just one Super Bowl title to his credit.
2021 will mark a year of transition for the Saints, as ex-Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston was named the starting quarterback over Taysom Hill, and the team will also be away from its home in New Orleans for at least the first two home games of the season due to damage the city suffered from Hurricane Ida.