Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) at New Orleans Saints (5-8)
The Buccaneers lost last week as big home favorites against the Eagles, essentially eliminating themselves from playoff contention, but they are still better than their record. They haven’t lost a single game by more than 8 points, but 4 of their 6 wins have come by double digits. As a result, they are 11th in net points per drive at 0.25. They are also 14th in DVOA and 15th in weighted DVOA.
The Saints, meanwhile, rank 19th in net points per drive at -0.13. If you take the difference, multiply by 11 (the average amount of drives per game per team), and add 2.5 points to New Orleans’ side for home field, you get that the Buccaneers should be 1.5 point favorites here. That holds up to DVOA, in which the Saints rank 22nd, as well as 21st in weighted.
The Buccaneers may have lost last week, but they were in a really bad spot. They were in a sandwich game in between an emotional loss to the Broncos and this big divisional matchup. However, this week, the Saints are the one in that spot. Last week, they lost as dogs in New York against the Giants and next week, they have to go to Dallas, where they will be dogs. In between, they have this game, in which they are favored. Teams are 59-85 ATS in this spot since 2008.
Teams are 15-18 ATS in this spot as favorites of more than a touchdown, which is why I didn’t take the Eagles last week. I thought even if the Buccaneers overlooked the Eagles, they could still cover on pure talent. However, the Saints are favorites of less than a touchdown here this week and teams are 44-67 ATS in that spot. They might not overlook the Buccaneers, though, because it’s a divisional game sandwiched in between two non-divisional games. Teams are 12-17 ATS in that spot since 2008, 22-26 ATS since 2002, which isn’t much of a trend.
However, that trend does feed into one another. Teams are 32-55 ATS as favorites off back-to-back-to-back losses as dogs before being dogs since 1989. This is an extreme sandwich situation. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are dogs before being favorites, as they host the Rams next week. Teams are 105-62 ATS as dogs before being favorites since 2011. Dogs before being favorites when their opponent will next be dogs are 116-59 ATS since 2008. It’s also worth noting that teams are 30-17 ATS as dogs off a close (1-3 points) loss as touchdown favorites. The Buccaneers overlooked the Eagles last week in preparation for this game and they’ll be extra focused this week.
This would be a bigger play if this wasn’t a divisional matchup and if the Saints weren’t so good at home. They are 12-3 ATS at home over the last 2 seasons, but only 3-3 ATS there this year without Sean Payton. I think we’re getting more than a field goal with the better team in the better spot. It’s a small play on the Buccaneers, though I’m definitely glad to be getting more than a field goal.
Public lean: New Orleans (50% range)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 New Orleans Saints 27 Upset Pick +170
Pick against spread: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +4 (-110) 2 units