New Orleans Saints (5-7 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday, December 11th 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium - Tampa Bay, FL
by Bob, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NOLA +3 / TAM -3
Over/Under Total: 51
There is a very important game taking place in the sunshine state on Sunday afternoon between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In years past it was the Saints who was battling this late in the season to remain in first place of the NFC South but now, in 2016, it is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that need to win to keep pace with the Atlanta Falcons who are currently tied for first in the division. As the tie breaker has it, the Falcons are technically the division leader with Tampa being a Wild Card team in the NFC. No room for a loss for Tampa in this one.
The line has the Bucs as the three point home favorite over the Saints while the total points are set at 51 combined. As of Tuesday night, 62% of the action was on Tampa to get the win and the cover at home. Most of the betting public also likes this game to go over the 51 points as 61% has taken that side in this one. Against the spread this season, the Saints have gone 8-4 and Tampa has a 7-5 mark against the spreads.
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For a few weeks it looked like Atlanta was going to just coast to an NFC South title, however, Tampa has come on strong as of late. The Bucs are tied with Atlanta for first in the NFC South due largely in part of their four game winning streak. Not only has Tampa won four straight, but they are beating some good teams. During that stretch they took down the Chiefs, Seahawks, Chargers, and Bears. Okay, the Bears are not a good team, but the other three are quality wins. The Buccaneers are statistically an average team. They rank 13th in passing yards with Jameis Winston at the helm, 17th in rushing offense, and their defense is allowing more points than the offense is scoring...yet somehow, Tampa has a 7-5 record and is becoming a legit threat to win the NFC South.
The Saints have not had a good 2016 and are primed and ready to play spoiler down the stretch. New Orleans is 5-7 and not mathematically out of the NFC South hunt but they need to win out and get some help along the way. However, three of their last four games are against Tampa and Atlanta with one against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome and then two against these Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints have a great opportunity to help themselves. New Orleans still has a dangerous offense led by Drew Brees and company, it is just that their defense is bad. The Saints have the top passing offense in the entire NFL averaging almost 320 yards a game and they are scoring almost 30 a game ranking second in the league behind Atlanta. But, there is that defense and I use that term loosely. The Saints are letting their opponents score 28 a game which puts lots of pressure on the offense and you cannot expect an offense to put up them numbers week in and week out. This weekend against Tampa if the Saints want to not only cover the spread but get a win, the defense has to at least show up a little. The Saints offense was held in check last week by the Detroit Lions and I do not see that happening again...not two weeks in a row. If the defense can keep Tampa under 21-23 points I think there is a shot.
To be honest defense is going to be key for both teams in this one. Tampa will have the home field advantage in Raymond James Stadium but the defense needs to show up and get stops. A few weeks ago I would have not been so high on Tampa and would have predicted a Saints win, but now, Tampa seems to have hit their stride. I do not see the Bucs blowing out the Saints but right now, they are just playing better football. I think Tampa gets a hard fought win this weekend and puts even more pressure on the Falcons in the NFC South race.
Bob's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win and cover the three points at home
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