The New Orleans Saints opened as an 8-point favorite over the Minnesota Vikings in this weekend’s Wild Card Round Playoff Game, but bettors are placing their money on another line that can lead to big payouts and bigger anguish for Who Dat Nation.
Vegas sportsbook operators are taking bets on which heart-breaking way the 2019-20 season will end for the star-crossed, third-seeded Saints, who narrowly missed gaining the #2 playoff seed and a bye week thanks to yet another controversial no-call in a crucial last-second loss by the Seattle Seahawks to the San Francisco F*ckiNiners in week 17.
The Saints have been victims of soul-crushing playoff losses the last two seasons – the Minneapolis Miracle during the 2017 Divisional Playoffs and the pass interference/helmet-to-helmet no-call in the last year’s NFC Championship that would have sent the team to the franchise’s second Super Bowl.
The top eight scenarios revealed thus far, while seemingly farfetched, are in line with the unbelievable outcomes of the last two seasons.
- The favorite at +175 is the Saints up by 4 points with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Drew Brees fumbling the snap on a “victory formation” kneel down attempt with the opposing team scooping up the ball and scoring the game-winning touchdown.
- At +225 is 40-year-old Drew Brees stepping back to launch a five-yard pass on the first play of the Saints opening drive when the rubber band and paper clips holding the quarterback’s right thumb together break completely apart and physically detaches the finger from the body, which then travels downfield with the ball and literally hands an interception to the opponent’s defensive back who runs it back for six and the game’s only points.
- Next, at +250, is a game-winning 30-yard field attempt during a tied game being blocked, the ball bouncing off the heads and hands of at least six Saints players, and then being scooped up and returned by an opposing player who runs out-of-bounds but still scores a touchdown that the officials let stand despite a review.
- At +275 is a game-winning field goal attempt from 25 or fewer yards out that results in a double-double doink where the Saints kicker’s failed boot hits a sidebar, crossbar, the other sidebar, and crossbar again to fall no good then is run back for a touchdown by the defense.
- Next, at +300, Michael Thomas makes an incredible highlight catch for a touchdown but is ruled out of bounds despite being in the absolute middle of the end zone. Coach Sean Payton challenges the call and, after review, the head referee announces Thomas was indeed inbounds but did not maintain possession all the way back to the bench. The Saints are then charged one touchdown for losing the challenge.
- Then, at +325, is a fan interference penalty call when a drunk Bobby Hebert runs on to the field to celebrate a Saints victory before time expires, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and one untimed down, which leads to a game-winning field goal or touchdown by the opponent.
- Coming in at +350 is the Saints playing absolutely flawless football while taking a commanding 28-3 lead into the fourth quarter. Once the final frame begins, the team is controversially penalized a record 40 times for 350 yards in one quarter, breaking the single-game record set in 2017, and ultimately falls 34-28.
- Finally, at +400, is the league’s first-ever quadruple overtime game, a matchup in which quarterback Drew Brees is hit and concussed by the overtime coin toss and does not return to the game. Backups Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill, who kneel down as trainers attend to Brees, inadvertently butt heads and are also concussed, knocking them out from the game and forcing coach Sean Payton to dust off his cleats and step in as the team’s last hope at quarterback.
“With the NFL allowing gambling, betting on how a Saints season ends is one of the hottest draws in town,” said Roger Hillenbrand, the director of specialty gaming for Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp.
“The draw of betting on the Saints is incredibly intriguing for oddsmakers because there is so much chaos with the unknown factor but it’s controlled chaos because we all know something absolutely crushing is waiting at the end. It’s just a matter of what.”
One potential positive, Hillenbrand notes, is that the major bettors believe the collapse will occur in this year’s championship, Super Bowl LIV.
“The Saints blew it in the Divisional Round two seasons ago. Last year, they got screwed in the NFC Championship. So, it only makes sense this year for them to go one round better for the ultimate wager,” he said. “The NFL didn’t just partner up with Caesars for nothing, you know.”
Before Saints fans develop hope that the team’s explosive offense and sometimes suffocating defense will propel them to the Lombardi Trophy, Hillenbrand said the safest bet, with odds at nearly 100%, is that the NFL will definitely crush Saints fans’ souls sometime in the postseason.
“The NFL has had a lot of fun with the Saints over the years,” Hillenbrand said, noting that the league’s embarrassment over Bountygate added the motivation.
“They’re our biggest draw. I mean, aside from the higher stakes games lately, look at previous years test games like against New England, New York Giants, Oakland, Denver, and Atlanta, Then, adding to the last two post-season games, you’ve got the Seattle Beast Mode and San Francisco VD playoff games. It’s all been building since 2011 to one big, massively magical moment.”