Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) at New Orleans Saints (5-2)
The Buccaneers were a popular playoff pick before the start of the season, but the public seems to have soured on them, as a result of a 2-5 start. They haven’t been quite as bad as their record though, they rank 15th in the NFL in first down rate differential. Three of their 5 losses have been by 5 or fewer points (Arizona, New England, and Buffalo) and they would have beaten the Patriots had if they had made one of three missed field goals. They’ve since changed field goal kickers.
How they’ve played this season is actually pretty impressive considering all the players that have missed time so far this season. Cornerback Brent Grimes, safety TJ Ward, linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, defensive end Noah Spence, defensive tackle Chris Baker, running back Doug Martin, and quarterback Jameis Winston have all been out of the lineup at points this season. They still aren’t fully healthy, as Grimes and Spence remain out, while Winston may still not be at 100% with a shoulder injury, but they’re as healthy as they’ve been in a while.
They lost last week at home to the Panthers, but they were in a bad spot in that game with this tough divisional matchup on deck. I expect a much better effort from them this week with their season on the line. Unfortunately, they have a very tough matchup in New Orleans against a Saints team that has a much improved defense and is arguably one of the top-5 teams in the league. We’re getting 7 points with the Buccaneers, but I have this line calculated at -6, so we’re not getting a lot of line value with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are underrated and better than their record, but the Saints might be a little underrated as well. I’d need at least 7.5 points to consider putting money on the Buccaneers.
New Orleans Saints 30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +7