Monday Night Football Preview

Saints at Raiders

Each week, TheLines will provide a daily betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Monday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best prop bets.

The New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders will face off at Allegiant Stadium for a Week 2 showdown on Monday night, Sept. 21. The game will mark the 14th meeting in a series that is tied 6-6-1. The most recent game between the teams unfolded in Week 1 of the 2016 season, when the Raiders defeated the Saints by a 35-34 score at the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome. Both quarterbacks that will start Monday’s game were also helming their respective teams in that contest. The Raiders’ Derek Carr completed 24 of 38 passes for 319 yards with a game-winning touchdown and no interceptions, while the Saints’ Drew Brees was 28-for-42 for 423 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

MNF odds and analysis


The Saints are solid 5.5-point favorites and holding steady despite the potential intangible of the Raiders having an extra level of motivation in the first game in their new stadium. As will be detailed further, the Saints were outstanding against the spread in 2019 and are an impressive 64-51-2 (55.6 percent) versus the number on the road overall during the Brees era (2006-present).

While both squads notched Week 1 victories, there was considerably more hype surrounding the Saints considering it came against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers. However, the win came with a cost. Pro Bowl WR Michael Thomas suffered a high-ankle sprain that was originally deemed to be serious enough for a potential multi-game absence. Yet as of Friday, Thomas is notably making noise about being able to suit up as early as this week.

The Raiders were able to squeeze out a road win over the Panthers. RB Josh Jacobs took center stage via 139 total yards and three rushing touchdowns. Rookie WR Henry Ruggs worked around a first-half knee injury to compile 66 total yards. He’s currently questionable for this game and missed the first official practice of the game week Thursday.

The projected total of 49.5 points ties for the third highest of the week as of Friday. The Raiders are expected to have one of the more porous defenses in the league after giving up 354.8 total yards per game in 2019. However, the Saints could naturally see a decreased offensive output if Thomas sits out.

Week 1 game matchup

The Saints have thrived under a primarily short-to-intermediate passing attack in recent seasons that they intersperse with a solid two-headed running attack. Currently, the ground charge is headed by Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara. Even though the sledding was rough in Week 1 against the Buccaneers’ top-ranked run defense from a year ago, coach Sean Payton stuck with his two primary backs to the tune of 27 carries that netted a modest 64 yards. Despite having Brees under center, New Orleans checked in with the fifth-lowest passing play percentage (48.48%) a season ago.

That said, there could be some benefit to Payton adjusting his tendencies a bit for this matchup. The Raiders did a reasonably good job on Christian McCaffrey (4.2 yards per rush) in Week 1, and they were in the top 10 in the NFL against the run in 2019 with a modest 98.1 rush yards per contest allowed. The potential absence of active middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) for this game could certainly make a difference for Las Vegas’ ability to slow down Murray and Kamara, yet the path of lesser resistance could still be through the air. Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater finished with 270 passing yards in Week 1 thanks in part to a blown coverage by the Raiders that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson. Vegas also yielded a robust 256.7 passing yards per game in 2019.

The Raiders will have their work cut out for them no matter which way they turn Monday night. The Saints were particularly tough against the run last season while surrendering the fourth-fewest rushing yards (91.3) per game, including the second fewest (78.8) per road contest. Jacobs is certainly a formidable weapon to attack with. However, New Orleans already got off to a strong start defending the ground game in Week 1, limiting the Buccaneers to 3.3 yards per rush on 26 carries.

Then, the passing game will face a secondary that gets valuable slot corner P.J. Williams back after he missed the opener with a hamstring injury. The rest of the defensive-back group is a Who’s Who of ballhawks that includes Janoris Jenkins, Marshon Lattimore and Malcolm Jenkins. Carr has been careful with the ball during his time under coach Jon Gruden, throwing just 18 interceptions across 33 games in that span. But, if he’s ultimately without Ruggs’ services Monday, it will significantly dampen the overall upside of his pass-catching corps.

Week 1 MNF betting breakdown

The all-time series between the teams is tied 6-6-1. However, the Saints have won three of the past four meetings dating back to the 2004 season, with the Raiders’ one victory during that span the aforementioned Week 1 win in 2016.

The Saints were 11-5 (NFL-best 68.8%) against the spread last season, including 7-1 (87.5%) as a road team, and are 1-0 versus the number thus far this season. New Orleans was also 3-1 (75.0 percent) ATS in inter-conference matchups in 2019. The Over was 9-7 (56.2%) in the Saints’ games last season, including 5-3 (62.5%) in their away games, and is 1-0 thus far this season.

The Raiders were 8-8 against the spread last season, including 3-4 (42.9 percent) as a home team. Las Vegas was also 2-2 ATS in 2019 inter-conference matchups and is 1-0 versus the number against NFC opponents thus far this season. The Over was 7-9 (43.8%) in the Raiders’ games last season, including 3-4 (42.9%) in their home games, and is 1-0 thus far this season.

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How to watch Monday Night Football

ESPN holds the rights to Monday Night Football and will cover 17 games from Week 1 through Week 16.

Games can be streamed on the go on ESPN’s website or WatchESPN app with a cable or satellite subscription. Streaming services such as Sling TV also carry ESPN in many of their subscription packages.

MNF betting tips

How to bet MNF like a sharp

Monday Night Football can be the most highly-anticipated game of any given week in the NFL throughout the season. The extra day of preparation, media coverage and overall hype brings more attention to every aspect of the game.

The extra day of rest can allow players to return from injury, but they may also be forcing themselves back to the field before they’re truly healthy due to the added attention on the game. Look at injury reports and have an idea of what kind of a role a star player will be able to handle.

The Monday Night spot can also create discrepancies in how much rest the two teams have had. Taking the most rested team (the one with the longest amount of time since its last game) can often be a good place to find some value at the sportsbooks, especially on the spread.

Never bet a game solely because it’s the final matchup of the week and is the best thing to watch on a Monday Night. Be ready to sit it out completely and wait for next week if there’s no value popping out at books.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Monday Night Football start?

As always, Monday Night Football debuted with a Week 1 doubleheader. The Steelers beat the Giants in the first game of the night on Sept. 14 and the Titans edged the Broncos.

Every other MNF game from Week 2 through Week 16 will begin at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

How to stream Monday Night Football?

The ESPN website and WatchESPN app are the easiest options for those with cable or satellite subscriptions. Many streaming services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Hulu include ESPN in most of their plans.

What is the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game ever?

The Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs in Week 11 of the 2018 season was the highest-scoring MNF game of all time. The 105 combined points topped the 95 points scored by the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in 1983.

Who are the MNF announcers?

ESPN moved on from Joe Tessitore after two years and will now implement longtime SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy as the play-by-play man for MNF. Levy will be joined by former NFL quarterback Brian Griese and former NFL safety Louis Riddick.

John Parry remains as the rules analyst, and Lisa Salters returns as the sideline reporter.

Who was the original Monday Night Football broadcast crew?

The original MNF broadcast crew on ABC in 1970 was made up of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. Many cycled through the crew before Al Michaels took over as play-by-play commentator from 1986 through 2005. His color analysts included Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller and John Madden. Mike Tirico assumed play-by-play duties with Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya filling out the crew when ESPN took over the rights in 2006. Jon Gruden replaced Kornheiser in 2009 until he returned to the sidelines as head coach of the Oakland Raiders last season.