New Orleans Saints (5-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-6)
The Saints are just 5-7, but enter this game 5th in first down rate differential. That’s because, on the season, the Saints have 39 more first downs than their opponents (the 2nd best differential in the league) and 10 more offensive touchdowns than their opponents (tied for the 4th best differential in the league), but are just 5-7 because of because of a -4 margin in return touchdowns and 5 losses by 6 points or fewer (including 4 losses by 3 points or fewer). They had their worst week of the season last week in a 15-point home loss to the Lions, but could easily be 7-5 or 8-4 or even 9-3 right now if a few things had gone their way.
Despite that, the Saints are 3 point underdogs here in Tampa Bay, suggesting these two teams are even. The Buccaneers are 7-5, but rank 25th in first down rate differential. They’re not a bad team and they’re relatively healthy right now, but the Saints are also relatively healthy right now and are definitely the better team in this one, despite what the records say. The Buccaneers have also had a weak homefield advantage in recent years, going 20-39 ATS at home since 2009, including just 2-4 ATS at home this season. The Saints are my Pick of the Week this week.
New Orleans Saints 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Upset Pick +125
Pick against the spread: New Orleans +3
Confidence: Pick of the Week