Buccaneers vs. Saints Playoff Pick ATS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5 SU, 10-7 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS)
NFC Divisional Playoffs
Date/Time: Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 6:40PM EST
Where: Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Point Spread: TB +3/NO -3 (Find the best sportsbooks >>> 100% Bonuses! Reduced juice -105 options! Don’t settle for less!)
Over/Under Total: 52
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in NFC Divisional Playoff action. Both teams had pretty conclusive wins in the Wild Card round last week. The Bucs beat Washington, 31-23, to advance to this spot, where they look to score their second straight road playoff win. The Saints, meanwhile, beat the Bears, 21-9, to put themselves one win from the NFC title game. Who can get it done this week in New Orleans?
It’s not uncommon that conference teams this late in the game may have already met before, but when the teams are divisional rivals, we have a nice database of info upon which to rely. In this case, it would appear to hold more water, with New Orleans holding two wins over Tampa this season. In week one, the Bucs fell at the Superdome, 34-23, spoiling Tom Brady’s debut with his new team. It didn’t get better a few months later when the Saints went into Tampa and slaughtered the Bucs, 38-3.
In those games is both bad news and good news for potential Bucs backers. In two losses to the Saints, mistakes were a key part of the winning equation for New Orleans, including three Brady picks in the last game. Two bad games from Brady was partially to blame, but is that something you can bank on for a third time this season? Neither of the two previous games went well for the Buccaneers, but maybe they can clean up some mistakes and see what they do well actually translate against the Saints this week.
Greater Balance of the Saints
The Saints are really a well-rounded team on both sides of the ball. On offense, Drew Brees commandeers an offense that has a lot of weapons in all areas. Out of the backfield is dynamic Alvin Kamara, a potential game-breaking talent, bolstered by the support of productive Latavius Murray. There is elite receiver talent with which to work in Michael Thomas, while Brees relies on a good offensive line. The New Orleans defense, meanwhile, is among the more-balanced units in the game. Fifth against the pass and fourth against the run, they are both stout and impactful, making a lot of big plays that can change the complexion of a game.
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The Bucs have a deeper aerial crew, with a gaggle of top receivers and two productive tight ends. Between Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and others, it’s a lot for defenses to contain. The lack of a substantive run-game, however, makes them somewhat one-dimensional on offense. And we saw that manifest to some degree in the first two games between these teams this season. On defense, the Bucs flaunt a stout and disruptive front—one of the best in the league. But again, the element of incompleteness rears its head, with the Tampa secondary being a bottom-third unit this season.
At the end, you have a New Orleans team that is a little ahead of Tampa in its maturation of a true contender. For several years, the Saints have been making a push for glory. Tampa, meanwhile, only began to forge their winning path this season. And it shows, with New Orleans being a more-evolved and seasoned contender. Tampa has elements that certainly make them a team you simply cannot scoff at. With that offensive firepower, that front-seven on defense, and the most winning postseason quarterback in history, they certainly have a lot of hope. But from a naked-eye appraisal, Tampa is a little less-developed as an overall team.
The Brees Factor
A lot of attention in the postseason naturally goes to Brady, the most illustrious QB of all-time. But this could be it for Brees. And that deserves a little extra attention, as the veteran quarterback and the whole team should be at a fever pitch from an urgency standpoint. The Saints have made a big push the last few years, compiling all the pieces needed for a title run. Whereas Brady could lose this game and return next year with the promise of hope, it would be harder for Brees to reset for another season. For the Saints and Brees, it just might come down to this.
Can Tampa Solve New Orleans Defense
The Tampa offense averaged 30 points a game this season. In two games against the Saints, however, they managed a total of 26 points. Saints’ offense aside, it is the growth on the defensive side of the ball that allowed the Saints to graduate to the level of a true-blue contender. For the potential Tampa backer, it has to be disconcerting to have seen the Tampa offense struggle twice so markedly against the Saints this season. Can they turn it around in this high-stakes matchup? Or is there just something about the Tampa winning formula that falls flat against this particular team?
Lay the Points
Those who choose to defer to Tom Brady’s postseason magic-touch are taking a stand that is understandable on some levels. It’s not easy beating Tom Brady three times in a single season. So New Orleans backers should be rightfully concerned. I just think that Tampa doesn’t really match up well against the Saints, whose defense is so complete, stout, and impactful. And their offense follows suit. New Orleans is the more complete team, the more thorough team overall. Tampa is undeniably dangerous and should be respected, but on a basic level, I feel New Orleans is the better team. And at home with the hourglass waning on Brees and, therefore, the whole Saints team, I see this as being their spot to shine. I’ll take the Saints.
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