Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5 SU, 1-5-1 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS)
NFL Week 9
Date/Time: Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 1PM EDT
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TB +7/NO -7
Over/Under Total: 50.5
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to the Superdome on Sunday for an NFC South matchup with the New Orleans Saints. Tampa is slipping badly, on the heels of four straight losses. On Sunday, they hit a new low, beaten at home by the Panthers, 17-3. They now have to pick up and take to the road against the streaking Saints. New Orleans started the season looking awful and have completely turned it around with five straight wins. On Sunday, they beat the Bears, 20-12, and look for more at home against a Bucs bunch that hasnt seen a lot go their way recently.
Tampa has dealt with a lot of the common issues that take a promising team and render it a disappointment. There have been injuries, bad placekicking, and new acquisitions not taking hold. Even so, its hard to pinpoint why everything has gotten so sideways. The offense has been very flat, despite an impressive roster on that side of the ball. Youth, inconsistency, and injuries have hurt the defense, especially in the secondary. Now just 7 games into the season, a team many labeled as an interesting contender needs to start winning before the season is a loss.
On offense, Tampa quarterback Jameis Winston hasnt been great. A deficient line, erratic play around him, and nagging issues with his shoulder have certainly contributed, but the franchise QB hasnt been very good more often than not. On Sunday, he threw two more picks and fumbled the ball once again, as turnovers have been a recurring issue. Granted, not all these guys have a good game at the same time, but with RB Doug Martin, a nice one-two punch at WR in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, along with a couple impactful tight ends in Cameron Brate and rising rookie OJ Howard, its an offense that has to come up with more than three lousy points at home within their division in a game they absolutely needed to win.
With an offense leaving them gasping, the Bucs defense was pretty steadfast against the Panthers. They had been extremely leaky in all areas heading into that game, so Sunday wasnt a bad game for them. Injuries have hurt, but the secondary is an area where they need more-reliable manpower. Youngsters could come around, but they are stocked with a lot of youth and reserves taking on a bigger role. There are bright spots. Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander are capable in the middle. Chris Baker and Gerald McCoy are assets up-front. But with seven sacks and an overall lack of difference-making plays, this defense just hasnt been carrying its weight.
For the Saints, its a whole different story. They werent just losing to begin the season, but they looked awful in doing so. They turned it around and have been really hammering teams, with their 20-12 win over Chicago the closest game in that five-game stretch. We now see the Saints putting a big cast of playmakers to use on the ground and through the air. On the other side of the ball, incompetence has given way to far better play, in addition to executing the kind of plays that really help the team.
The Saints offense hasnt seen things go their way completely this season. Up-front, theyve had to do a lot of shuffling. While its not a top line, they have managed to keep their nose above water. Allowing just 7 sacks to Brees is pretty impressive. It has helped the multi-dimensional Saints offense. Drew Brees is commandeering the aerial attack expertly, with Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, and others getting involved. RB Mark Ingram has been better recently, along with rookie RB Alvin Kamara, as both are also useful aerially. Brandon Coleman caught a long pass. WR Willie Snead is working himself back after a suspension and being banged-up. They have a lot of options on this side of the ball.
The Saints defense has followed suit. To begin the season, it looked like this side of the ball would again be a major hurdle to success. In the last two games, they have given up a combined 29 points and are getting better over the course of the season. They are making plays, with Kenny Vaccaro and rookie Marshon Lattimore making a lot of big contributions. Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor apply consistent quarterback pressure. Only once in their last five games have they allowed more than 17 points. This week, they look to use some of this newfound venom on a struggling Tampa offense.
New Orleans is not likely to start phoning it in now. Even with five straight wins, they know it can all turn around for the worse with a letdown. They still might not be as urgent as a Tampa team that would have to start kissing this season goodbye with another loss. Still, how much did that urgency resonate last week for the Bucs? New Orleans is a smooth-running football machine heading into this week, at home facing a sideways Tampa bunch. This week, well side with dependability and lay the points on the Saints.
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