The New Orleans Saints will open the 2023 #NFL regular season on Sept. 10 without arguably their most important returning offensive player as five-time Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara has been suspended the first three games of the year for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. That has dropped the Saints from -3.5 in Week 1 at home vs. Tennessee to -3.
New Orleans is 3-7 straight up in the 10 games Kamara has missed since entering the league as a 2017 third-round pick out of Tennessee. Kamara made an impact immediately as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He didn’t miss a game as a rookie and hasn’t played a full regular season since but always at least 13 games. Last year in 15 games, Kamara finished with 897 yards rushing and two scores on 223 carries and 57 catches for 490 yards and two scores.
The #Saints were 0-2 without him, losing 20-10 at home vs. Tampa Bay in Week 2 and 28-25 vs. Minnesota in London in Week 4. New Orleans has lost its past six overall without Kamara, who is easily one of the best receiving backs in the league -- but those numbers were well down in part because the Saints didn’t have very good QB play in 2022 with the likes of Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Former Raider Derek Carr is the new starter. Dalton is long gone and Winston the backup.
Kamara can participate in camp and the preseason and is eligible to return to the active roster Monday, Sept. 25. The incident in question occurred on the eve of the 2022 Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, where Kamara had an alleged altercation with a man inside a hotel and casino. Kamara initially faced a felony battery charge and a misdemeanor charge of breaching the peace, but is no longer facing the felony after pleading no contest to the lesser charge in July.
Purely from a running perspective, the Saints should be OK without Kamara as they signed Jamaal Williams from the Lions in free agency, and he comes off a career-best season of 1,066 yards and an NFL-best 16 rushing TDs. The team selected tailback Kendre Miller in the third round of this year’s draft out of TCU and will host former league rushing king and free agent Kareem Hunt on Tuesday. Hunt played in all 17 games for the Browns last season as a backup to Nick Chubb, rushing for 468 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught 35 passes for 210 yards and a TD.
New Orleans is 17-17 straight up in Week 1 games all-time and 16-17-1 ATS. At +6 on a teaser, that ATS mark improves to 25-9. The Saints have won their past four season openers (2-2 ATS).
Saints coach Dennis Allen is 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS in Week 1 career (1-0 SU/0-1 ATS with NO). Overall, Allen has a horrible ATS mark of .396 (21-32) in his head coaching career dating to his Raiders days. Out of 193 coaches in the Super Bowl era to coach at least 40 regular-season games, Allen is the only one with a cover percentage below 40 percent.
On the total, the over is 17-16-1 in those 34 Week 1 Saints games with an average number of 44 points. The total vs. the #Titans is currently 41.5, which generally dropped a points at the books with the Kamara news. The final six games of last season finished under for New Orleans but it also didn’t have Carr then.