Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 2
Date/Time: Sunday September 20th, 1:00PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, L.A.
by Jay, Pro Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bucs +11.5/Saints -11.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
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Surprisingly the New Orleans Saints are the only team in the NFL that has yet to record a win thus far in 2015. The Saints and the Rams were the only teams to go winless through the preseason but the Rams avenged their winless preseason with a thrilling victory over the Seahawks in overtime last week in their regular season opener. However, the Saints could not erase their preseason woes as they suffered another loss to start their regular season 31-19 against the Cardinals. Despite the concerns and winless streak, the Saints enter this Sundays home opener as rather large 11.5 point favorites over the Buccaneers in an NFC South matchup.
Perhaps the reason for the rather large points spread is more about the Buccaneers and not about the Saints winless start. Last week Tampa Bay was embarrassed by Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans in a 42-14 blowout. The rookie Mariota and #2 overall pick in the draft outshined Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and overall #1 pick in the draft. Winston tossed two interceptions as the Tampa Bay offense proved yet again they still have major offensive woes just as they have the last several years. The Buccaneers managed just 273 total yards as Winston hit just 16 of 33 passes and running back Doug Martin was held to just 52 total yards rushing.
Outside of the offensive concerns, it was the Buccaneers defense that was embarrassed by Mariota and the Titans. The Tampa Bay defense gave up 35 1st half points to a Titans team that won just 2 games in 2014. To make matters worse, the defense allowed 4 touchdowns from the Titans rookie quarterback and simply looked lost at times. Therefore that is not exactly the type of momentum that you want to have on defense when the next guy you will be facing is Drew Brees and a Saints offense that is basically designed to pick you apart in the same way the Titans were doing a week ago.
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Of course the Saints are not quite as loaded as they have been in years past. I still scratch my head every time I think about Jimmy Graham being in Seattle. Last week Mark Ingram led the team in both targets and receptions out of the backfield. Ingram was stuffed in the running game but managed to grab 8 catches for 98 yards. The actual receiving corps including Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston, and Brandon Coleman were held to very modest numbers. I believe the Saints will have the opportunity to get those guys in more of a rhythm this week and the progression of the receiving corps is going to have a big impact on how potent this offense is in 2015.
I imagine that Brees will spread the offense out and pick apart holes in coverage this week which should give all the receivers plenty of looks. The Buccaneers secondary did not have the talent to match-up with Tennessees receivers last week and if they do not find ways to disguise their coverages, it is going to be another long afternoon. If you look at recent history, New Orleans has owned Tampa Bay over the last several years winning the last 7 straight games. However, neither team has been that great for odds makers. The Saints have covered just once in the last 5 games and are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 homes games going back to 2014.
The Buccaneers have had a bit more success against the number despite just 2 wins in all of 2014. Tampa Bay found ways to cover in 5 of the last 7 games and they have historically been a good bet as double digit underdogs. The key for this game will be getting help from the Tampa Bay defense and keeping the game within reach. If the defense can get some stops, the offense will have a chance. If they get behind early, I am not sure this offense has the maturity at any of the positions to play from behind effectively.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Buccaneers have gone under the total in 9 of their last 11 games and I like that trend again this week. Tampa Bays offense is going to take some time to get going and I think their pace will carry over to both sides. Look for New Orleans offense to move the football but scoring should still be rather mild. Take the under 46.5
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