New Orleans Saints (4-8 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday December 13th, 1:00PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium Tampa, F.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NO +4/TB -4
Over/Under Total: 50.5
Do not look now but after wins in 4 of their last 6 games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are emerging as potential wildcard playoff contenders. The Buccaneers made that possibility a little more likely last week with an impressive 23-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Trailing late, quarterback Jameis Winston hit Mike Evans for a touchdown with just 1:39 to go to seal the comeback victory and keep the Buccaneers hopes for the playoffs alive. Obviously at 6-6, there is little room for error in the weeks ahead but nevertheless Tampa Bay is alive in the wildcard race just one year removed from having the worst record in the NFL. This Sunday the Buccaneers look to keep things trending positively when they host the New Orleans Saints inside Raymond James Stadium.
The Saints took the Panthers to the brink last Sunday only to come up short in a 41-38 loss in New Orleans. The loss marked New Orleans fourth straight defeat. The last time the Saints scored the W was back on the 2nd of November in that infamous shootout with the Giants that resulted in a 52-49 victory. Since then, the Saints have had a ton of issues on both sides of the ball. However last weeks close loss to the Panthers was the first time that the offense has shown any life in recent weeks which gives some hope going forward especially moving into this Sundays NFC South showdown with the Buccaneers.
Last week, Drew Brees and the Saints offense racked up 38 points against the leagues #1 defense. Brees threw for 282 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 pick in the contest while hitting 9 different receivers. After scoring just 20 points in the prior two weeks combined, it was nice to see the Saints offense show some shades of their typical prowess. This week Brees will take aim at a Buccaneers defense that ranks 23rd in the NFL giving up 24.8 points per game. I have little doubt that the Saints will be able to put some pressure on the Buccaneers defense especially if Brees gets the chance to throw 40 plus pass attempts again which seems to be the formula in New Orleans victories. In fact, Brees lowest passing total in any victory this season has been 39 attempts.
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The problem that I have in picking the Saints this week and any week for that matter is because of the play of the New Orleans defense. The Saints defense has given up 39 points on average of their last 5 games. Just as we saw last week even when the Saints offense puts up a big number, it is still not enough when the defense cannot get off the field. The Saints rank 2nd to last against the pass relinquishing 287 yards per game and rank dead last against the run giving up 137.8 yards per game. That is not a good recipe to go against a Buccaneers team that has been performing well in both areas for this Sundays showdown.
The Buccaneers have been running the football well and quarterback Jameis Winston has really progressed nicely in his rookie campaign. After two years of struggles, Doug Martin has reemerged as the Buccaneers work horse in the backfield. Martin has rushed for 1,133 yards and 4 touchdowns and has really picked up steam in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Winston still continues to impress in the passing game. The rookie quarterback has been clutch in important situations this year and he will get to take aim at a pitiful Saints pass defense. Just 3 weeks ago, Winston blistered the Eagles weak pass defense to the tune of 5 passing touchdowns and I expect that he will get plenty of opportunities to throw a few others again this week in what could potentially be a high scoring game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think this game sets up nicely towards another potential high scoring game. Both offenses have some mismatches in the passing game to exploit which should lead to big play possibilities. Take the over 50.5!
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