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New Orleans Saints
By John J. Raspanti
Robert Griffin III, the Redskins prized young quarterback, makes his professional debut as the Skins play the Saints in New Orleans. Griffin, 22, won the Heisman Trophy while playing for the Baylor Bears last year. The young quarterback was poised in his two-preseason starts. Girffin and company find themselves as +7.5 point underdogs thus week at 5 dimes, against a Saints team with plenty of off season drama. The total here is 50.5. The eraly betting patters at sportsbook.ag show us that 60% of the action on the side is on the Saints, while 78% of the action is on the over.
"He's still a young kid. He still has a lot to learn," said cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
The Redskins used a three-headed running back rotation during the preseason. Evan Royster (328 yards in 2011) will likely start with second year man Roy Helu (609 yards) backing him up. Rookie Alfred Morris could also get some touches. Griffin (nicknamed RG3) can run, and could find some tiny cracks in the Saints defense.
The Skins signed wide receiver Pierre Garcon (70 catches with the Colts) to a five-year, $42.5 million deal. The 26-year-old was Griffin's primary target during the preseason. Veteran Santana Moss (46 catches) could be used as a safety valve for Griffin.
Defensively the Redskins ranked 13th last year. The defense is anchored by 37-year-old linebacker London Fletcher (166 tackles) whose coming off a monster year. Defensive end Stephen Bowen (six sacks) will be attempting to put some pressure on Drew Brees. Cornerbacks Hall and Josh Wilson combined for five interceptions last season.
The controversial bounty program hit the Saints hard. Head coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma will not be on the field this season. Will the Saints still execute like a playoff team?
Aaron Kromer, filling in as head coach, has seen no lack of intensity.
"There isn't a difference because we're doing what Sean Payton taught us," said Kromer.
Quarterback Drew Brees had an amazing season last year completing 71 percent of his passes for 46 touchdowns. Running the ball will be tiny but strong Darren Sproles (600 yards, 6.9 yards per carry). Brees favorite target is gigantic tight end Jimmy Graham who caught an astounding 99 balls last year. Wide receiver Marques Colston provides the speed, while Lance Moore is reliable.
On the defensive side of the football, Curtis Lofton, one of the Saints' top free-agent acquisitions, will be making his first start at middle linebacker. The former Falcons star registered a career-high 147 tackles last season. Weakside linebacker David Hawthorne (115 tackles, three interceptions) and strong safety Roman Harper (seven sacks) will provide the depth.
We'll side with the drama over the rookie QB here. RG3 figures to make his mark on the NFL, in time. Perhaps this year. Hey, Cam Newton proved that a rookie QB can come in and lead right off the bat. But in the first game out of the gate, against Dree Brees, we have to side with the Saints. Saints -7.5
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