Sunday’s matchup between the Saints and Buccaneers still has plenty of meaning for New Orleans. If the Saints win then they clinch the NFC South and get a home game in the playoffs. If they lose, then the Saints will need Carolina to lose at Atlanta for the Saints to take the division. For Tampa Bay, they’ve long been eliminated from playoff contention and head into the season trying to figure out how to take that next step. Kickoff inside Raymond James Stadium is at 4:25 PM ET.
Sunday’s encounter will be the 52nd game between these two teams with the Saints holding the advantage at 32-19. The Saints also hold the all-time advantage with a 14-8 record on the road against Tampa Bay. New Orleans is 6-2 in their last 8 road games vs the Bucs. The Saints won the first matchup of the season 30-10 and look to sweep the Bucs for the first time since 2014.
New Orleans (11-4) is 4-3 on the road this season and comes into this matchup having won 3 of their last 4 overall games. The Saints look to win the division for the first time since 2011. Overall, they have won the division 3 times. The Saints will also have to wait to see if the Rams win on Sunday to see which team will be the #3 seed for the playoffs. Because New Orleans lost to the Rams, LA has the tie breaker and would get the #3 seed if both teams finish with the same record.
Tampa Bay (4-11) is 3-4 at home and comes into this matchup losing 5 straight games. It’s actually their second 5 game losing streak of the season and it threatens the job security for head coach Dirk Koetter. Tampa finished 9-7 last year and was a popular pick to win the NFC South this year. Unfortunately, poor play on the field and injuries to key players like Winston derailed their postseason aspirations. What lies ahead for Tampa this offseason is anyone’s guess. But, on Sunday, they will lose their 6th straight game.
The spread opened with the Saints favored by 9 points, it has since come down to 6.5 points. The Over/Under opened at 50 points and it has gone up slightly to 50.5 total points.
Despite Tampa’s spirited attempt to beat Carolina last weekend, and losing in the final minute of the game, I don’t see them having the same success this weekend against the Saints. Tampa has one of the weakest defenses in the league as they give up 389.9 total ypg, 23.9 ppg, 270.7 ypg, and 19.2 ypg. All of those numbers equals one thing – a beatdown by the Saints.
New Orleans is one of the top scoring teams in the league at 29.7 ppg. Additionally, they accumulate over 404 total ypg, 272.6 passing ypg, and is one of the top rushing teams in the league at 131.9 ypg. Both of their running backs were voted to the pro bowl and they are the deadliest running duo in the league. Rookie running back Alvin Kamara is the most dangerous pass catcher out of the backfield. He already has 75 receptions for 684 yards. He’s also a touchdown machine with 12 on the season. His running mate Mark Ingram has 1,089 rushing yards on the season and 12 TDs as well.
In their first meeting this season, Kamara had a huge day with 152 total yards and 2 touchdowns. Ingram chipped in 77 rushing yards and the duo finished the day with 229 combined yards. On the day, Tampa gave up over 400 total yards to the Saints and I see that happening against this weekend. Brees finished that contest with 263 yards and 2 TDs. So, even if the Saints could slow down the powerful duo of Kamara and Ingram, they would still have to contend with Brees. Bottom line, New Orleans has too much firepower for a Bucs team that has nothing to play for. I expect this game to be a blowout in the second half as the Saints cruise to a 34-17 victory.
Look for the defense to hold Tampa to a low output and help put the offense in favorable positions. Saints only allow 19.7 ppg and Tampa only scores 20.3 ppg. Even with playing inspired football over the last month, the Bucs were only able to put up a high of 21 points. That definitely won’t be enough to stay with the Saints this week.
New Orleans 12-4-1 ATS in their last 17 road games, 8-2 ATS as a Favorite this year, and 4-1 ATS versus divisional opponents this year. Tampa is 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 games, 2-4 ATS in their last 6 home games, 3-8 ATS versus the NFC this year, and 2-6 ATS as an Underdog this year.