Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints Pick
Buccaneers (2017 5-11 SU, 6-9-1 ATS) vs. Saints (2017 11-5 SU, 10-8 ATS)
NFL Football Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday September 9th, 2018. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, L.A.
by: Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TB +10.5/NO -10.5
The time has finally arrived for the opening weekend in the NFL. Fire up your fantasy football rosters, sit down on the couch with a cold beer, and just enjoy the afternoon because our favorite time of the year has returned. With the dawn of a new season on the horizon, it means that we have some fantastic betting opportunities over the next several months. Let’s jump right into a solid betting opportunity surrounding this weekend’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Personally, I am not the biggest fan of betting on the opening week of the season unless there is some exceptional value. Despite the amount of time you have spent researching off-season transactions, analyzing training camp reports, or the amount of time you have watched the preseason, it is still hard to gauge just how good or bad a team is until the laces hit the ball. I am sure we will have answers to lingering questions around the league after week 1 that will help us moving forward. However one of the major questions that needs to be asked for this week’s NFC South showdown is “can the Buccaneers compete without star quarterback Jameis Winston?”
As most should be aware, Jameis Winston was suspended for the opening 3 games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Filling the void at quarterback will be none other than journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick joined the Buccaneers in 2017 and actually started 3 games last year when Winston was sidelined with an injury. However, Fitzpatrick was the same Fitz that we witnessed play for the Jets, Texans, Titans, and everywhere else he has bounced around in the last few years. Simply mediocre at best. Needless to say, the Buccaneers will definitely be at a disadvantage without their starter against a Saints team that is on the heels of a breakout 2017 campaign and are expected to win 10 regular season games.
For the fantasy players and bettors out there, I am not a fan of the Buccaneers offense with Fitzpatrick under center. I would expect WR Mike Evans targets/efficiency to be down especially if he sees a lot of coverage from Saints stud CB Marshon Lattimore. Fitzpatrick sports a lifetime sub 60% completion percentage and there is no signs of that stat changing. For Tampa Bay to excel this week and beyond, they are going to need some help from their young talents. WR Chris Godwin needs to help take some of the attention away from Evans. Meanwhile, running back Peyton Barber will have the opportunity to showcase his talents in the backfield. I am personally a fan of Barber’s potential but I am not a fan of his supporting cast with Fitzpatrick.
New Orleans’s breakout success in 2017 was not a fluke. After years of mediocrity, the organization finally made some changes to pave the path to success. Defensive talent started to become a priority during the previous offseasons. The Saints spent a lot of effort beefing up their offensive line which helped pave the way for Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to have huge seasons. The core of that same talent returns this year with the playmaking trio of QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara, and WR Michael Thomas as the centerpiece.
The Saints also acquired the likes of Ben Watson and Cameron Meredith to help the passing attack add new targets. Meredith had a disappointing stint in Chicago but could be on the verge of revamping his career with New Orleans. Furthermore Mark Ingram is sidelined for the first 4 games of the season for failing the NFL’s drug enforcement policy. While this factor may seem like a bad thing for the Saints, I believe it could be a gift in disguise. Alvin Kamara’s 2017 season was a nonstop highlight reel and he accomplished everything mainly in a backup/change of pace role. Most experts around the league agree that Kamara is the better back and perhaps one of the better backs in the league. Now at least for the next 4 weeks, he will get a ton of touches to prove those notions are true.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: It is the 1st week of the season but this is not a hard game to predict. The Buccaneers have no identity, no trust, nor confidence in their offense with Fitzpatrick. The Saints are the complete opposite with talent at every level and poised with homerun threats on every snap. This one can and will get ugly. Take New Orleans -10.5
*Trends for added confidence - The Buccaneers are 3-8 SU in their last 11 season openers, 5-9-1 ATS in their last 15 games, and just 2-6-1 ATS in their last 9 games on the road.
The Redskins travel to the desert to take on the Cardinals to open the 2018 season. Both clubs missed the NFL playoffs last season and are entering transition periods this year. Which team will start their turnaround in week 1?