A breakdown and pick for Saints at Bucs
The 4-8 New Orleans Saints visit Tampa Bay Monday night to take on the 5-6 Buccaneers in an NFC South clash. Both teams are having down years, but so is everyone in the division. The Bucs, leading the division, are four-point favorites (total at 40.5), according to NFL odds.
Since someone (theoretically) has to survive the South, the Bucs are odds-on choices to do just that, while the Saints are third choice in the wagering, as per NFL division odds.
Saints Basement-Dwellers in South
The New Orleans Saints can make the NFC South extremely interesting with a victory Monday night. In last in the division, but just a game-and-a-half back of the Bucs. If the visitors win, it then jumbles the quartet in a race where everyone except the winner has no shot of getting into the postseason.
New Orleans was an ugly 13-0 loser in Santa Clara against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. Having struggled on offense, particularly recently, the Saints were no match against one of the best defenses in the league. As is pretty much every team’s fate at this time of the season, there’s injuries galore. There were 15 names on the team's latest report. Running back Alvin Kamara, who had issues hanging onto the ball against the Niners, did not appear on the infirmary list, but didn't complete the game, either. He is expected to play Monday night.
Bucs Among Weak Friends
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are under .500, but quite fortunate to be among passive friends in the weakest division (if not these guys, try the AFC South). Tampa is coming off of an overtime loss to the Browns in Cleveland, having lost a late lead, then the game.
In fact, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys have as many wins between the tandem as as the entire NFC South combined. If the Buccaneers are to continue their dominance of the NFC South since quarterback Tom Brady's arrival, they need to win this game.
Brady has struggled, with an underlying cause being a weak run game. The team is averaging less than 80 rush yards per game. There's not a backfield in the league with a poorer resume.
Saints to Find Way
One injury that figures to have a major impact on this game is Tampa Bay tackle Tristan Wirfs, who suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Browns and is expected to miss time. Since no one has accused Brady of gaining mobility in the past few seasons, the absence of perhaps his best protector has to help the Saints. Take the visitors +4, as this game should go back and forth.
Go under with the total. Since neither offense is clicking at the moment, there will be more field goals than touchdowns in this one. The two teams average 39 points per game (Saints 20.8, Bucs 18.2), so don't expect any fireworks.