The New Orleans Saints will try to avoid a second straight loss to a division foe when they hit the road in Week 11 to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 17 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Fans in New Orleans, Tampa, and most places in between will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Current odds list the Saints as 5.5-point favorites on the road with an over/under of 49.5 points. Click here for a full list of the Week 11 NFL odds.
New Orleans was absolutely rolling heading into their bye a couple of weeks ago. They had won six games in a row and had even gotten Drew Brees back from injury. However, they couldn’t have been more flat in last week’s home loss to Atlanta. The Saints entered the game as two-touchdown favorites but were embarrassed 26-9 by a team earning just its second win of the season.
Despite the almost inexplicable loss, the Saints are 7-2 and retain a two-game lead over the Panthers atop the NFC South. Of course, the Saints still have to play the Panthers twice, including next week. That should make them eager to get back on track as soon as possible. Otherwise, their hold at the top of the division could be in jeopardy.
As for the Bucs, they were finally able to snap their four-game losing streak last week, escaping with a 30-27 win over the Cardinals. In true Tampa fashion, the Buccaneers turned the ball over three times. But a 92-yard touchdown drive in the closing minutes saved them.
Of course, the Bucs have a long way to go, as they are just 3-6 and would almost need to win out in order to have any chance of making the playoffs. For what it’s worth, Tampa’s most difficult games the rest of the season all come at home, giving them a glimmer of hope. On the other hand, the Buccaneers are just 1-3 at Raymond James Stadium this year.
When these two division rivals met back in Week 5, the Bucs gave the Saints a run for their money in the Superdome. New Orleans only won 31-24, although that was enough to cover the 3-point spread. The Saints won last year’s trip to Raymond James 28-14, although that’s their only road win over the Bucs in the last three seasons.
What are the chances that the Saints will have an absolute stinker in back-to-back weeks? Also, what are the chances that the Bucs will avoid beating themselves with turnovers? I’d say the odds of even one of these happening are low while both happening is almost unfathomable. Sean Payton should have no problem getting his team’s attention after last week, so I’m envisioning a comfortable win for New Orleans this. I’ll eat the points and take the Saints to cover.
Obviously, Brees and company didn’t have a good week last week, managing just three field goals against the lowly Falcons. It should be a different story this week against the Tampa Bay defense, which is yielding 31 points per game. The Bucs are particularly terrible at defending the pass. Even Teddy Bridgewater had no problem ripping apart the Tampa secondary in Week 5, throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. If he can do that, Brees should have no problem putting up similar numbers.
In fairness, the Bucs are one of the better teams in the NFL at stopping the run. They’re one of the few teams that have actually contained Christian McCaffrey this season. However, the Saints are one of the few teams to run for over 100 yards against the Tampa defense. Alvin Kamara struggled last week in his return from an injury, but he should improve this week. Even if he doesn’t, Latavius Murray has had a fine season as his backup.
Of course, the Tampa Bay offense is capable of keeping up in a shootout when their defense struggles to get stops. Chris Godwin had a breakout performance against the Saints in Week 5, even though the Saints did a great job of taking Mike Evans out of the game. But it seems unlikely that the New Orleans defense will be able to keep Evans under wraps for a second time this season, giving the Bucs reason to be optimistic.
However, on the other side of the coin is Jameis Winston’s propensity for needless turnovers. He’s thrown 14 interceptions this season, nearly matching his 17 touchdown passes. The Tampa offensive line hasn’t done him any favors this year. Winston has been sacked 34 times this year, with six of them coming against the Saints in Week 5. Between sacks and turnovers, the Saints should be able to get some stops against the Tampa Bay offense.
Admittedly, the Saints are coming off a dreadful performance and the Bucs are one of the most unpredictable teams in the NFL. That means there’s no such thing as a sure thing in this game. Having said that, the odds are stacked against the Buccaneers. Even as road favorites, taking the Saints to cover is the safer pick.