Buccaneers vs. Saints Betting Odds & Picks: Fade the Home Team?

Buccaneers vs. Saints Betting Odds & Picks: Fade the Home Team? article feature image

Robert Hanashiro-USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jameis Winston.

  • The Saints are field-goal favorites for their NFC South showdown against the Buccaneers.
  • Our staff analyzes this spread, discusses whether New Orleans can pull other another win without Drew Brees and more.

Buccaneers at Saints Betting Odds & Picks

  • Saints Spread: -3
  • Buccaneers Spread: +3
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

The Saints have surprisingly gone 2-0 without Drew Brees, including a tough win over the Cowboys. The Bucs, meanwhile, have the league’s hottest offense, putting up 55 on the road in Week 4 against the Rams.

Who has the edge in this matchup?

Read below for Sean Koerner’s projected odds, mismatches to note, a pro betting system with a match for this game, Stuckey’s favorite bets and more.

Buccaneers-Saints Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Saints

Everyone on the Saints is trending toward playing except for DE Trey Hendrickson (neck). His potential absence would be good news for the Jameis Winston since Hendrickson ranks third on the team in total pressures, per Pro Football Focus.

The Bucs have quite a few players listed on their injury report, including Chris Godwin (hip). However, he returned to limited practice on Thursday, which is a good sign since he missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. Granted, it might not matter all that much considering he looked just fine last week.

Most of the Bucs’ players who sat out on Wednesday returned to practice in at least a limited fashion on Thursday, so they should be in decent shape heading into their divisional matchup. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Buccaneers Pass Offense vs. Saints Pass Defense

The Bucs have struggled at points this year to put head coach Bruce Arians’ Air Coryell scheme into practice, but over the past two weeks they’ve scored 86 points with huge performances from Winston, Mike Evans and Godwin.

The Bucs are rounding into form.

The Saints, though, have really struggled against the pass. They’re No. 26 in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA, and their present weaknesses unfortunately align with the strengths of the Bucs.

As I mention in my Week 5 WR/CB matchups piece, Evans is likely to see shadow coverage from cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Despite his performance last week against Amari Cooper (4-39-0 receiving on seven targets), Lattimore has not at all played like a shadow corner this year.

wr cb matchups-fantasy football-shadow coverage-week 5-2019
Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via USA TODAY NETWORK. Pictured: Mike Evans, Marshon Lattimore

Lattimore has allowed league-worst marks with 24 receptions and 380 yards receiving. Of any corner to play at least 100 coverage snaps, he’s been the third-least efficient, yielding 2.41 yards per snap.

Unsurprisingly, he has a career-low 63.5 PFF coverage grade.

As for Evans, he’s tied for the league-lead with four touchdowns receiving, and he’s No. 1 outright with 581 Air Yards and No. 6 with 368 yards receiving.

Last year, Evans had a 6-163-1 receiving line on just seven targets in two shadow matchups with Lattimore. In overall production and efficiency, Evans rocked Lattimore last year. And that’s not even the biggest passing-game mismatch.

In the slot, Godwin will run most of his routes against cornerback P.J. Williams, who is imminently exploitable. Last year, Williams had a festering 48.0 PFF coverage grade and allowed a 72.0% catch rate in his coverage. In 17 games (including playoffs), he allowed a league-worst eight touchdowns.

Based on his 59.0 PFF coverage grade and 68.8% catch rate allowed, Williams isn’t doing much better this year.

Godwin, meanwhile, is tied with Evans for the league-lead in receiving touchdowns with four. Among wide receivers, he’s No. 3 with 386 yards receiving, No. 6 with 148 yards after the catch and No. 13 with 389 Air Yards.

As long as Winston doesn’t go “full Winston” with a self-immolating four-interception performance, Evans and Godwin should collectively dominate the Saints pass defense. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Saints -4
  • Projected Total: 48.5

The Buccaneers don’t play at home again until Week 10, which means we’ll very much be looking to fade them over that stretch. The fact that they opened this brutal stretch with a convincing road win over the Rams is only going to offer us more value down the road. However, this doesn’t appear to be the spot to fade them quite yet, as the Saints are another team we’ll want to fade in the short term.

Despite having a -8 point differential, the Saints are 3-1. They’ve been able to eek out back-to-back wins with Teddy Bridgewater under center while Brees recovers from thumb surgery.

One thing to note is that the Bucs are a pass funnel defense. They’ve managed to shut down Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley and Todd Gurley over the past three weeks. On the flip side, they have allowed 330-plus yards to Cam Newton, Daniel Jones and Jared Goff over that same stretch. The Saints might have to game-plan Bridgewater to be less of a game manager and force the issue downfield to take advantage of this specific matchup.

I think this sets up as a potential in-play over bet if the Saints either lean on the passing game more early on or if the Bucs take an early lead. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

Underdogs have historically performed well in division games, as increased familiarity among opponents has kept games competitive. In fact, it’s been profitable to bet small dogs in these matchups to win outright.

Even though teams matching this Pro System have a losing record of 111-116-2, bettors have still been able to turn a profit due to plus-money bets. A $100 gambler would have returned a profit of $4,568 following this strategy since 2003.

The Buccaneers +160 are a match for this system. John Ewing

PRO Systems are data-driven betting strategies that turn winning long-term trends into easy-to-follow picks, all handpicked and monitored by our team of analysts. Try Action PRO now and instantly access real-time game matches for every PRO System.

Expert Picks

Stuckey: Bucs +3.5; Under 47

I’m rolling with the road warrior Bucs on Sunday. I’m not sure anybody would’ve predicted Tampa would be 2-2 with road wins over the Panthers and Rams and home losses to the Giants and 49ers, but here we are.

Yes, the Saints have won both of Bridgewater’s starts, but they’ve done so with smoke and mirrors. Against Seattle, they were out-gained 515-265 (6.8-5.3 yards per play disadvantage) thanks to a special teams touchdown, key Seahawks fumble and some fourth-down luck. They really had no business winning that game.

They then followed up that game with a victory over the Cowboys despite not scoring a touchdown and once again losing the yards-per-play battle, 4.8 to 4.3. New Orleans benefited from two recovered fumbles in that game.

Let’s just say they could’ve easily — and arguably should have — lost their last two games, and most would probably be singing a different tune about this game. They’ve been extremely fortunate so far with Bridgewater, who didn’t throw for more than 200 yards in either game.

This Bucs defense is much improved under the guidance of Todd Bowles, who has implemented an aggressive 3-4 scheme. They will bring pressure from all over to not only get to opposing quarterbacks to create havoc but to mask some of the issues they have in their secondary — their clear weak link. Shaq Barrett has really benefited with Bowles, as the ex-Bronco leads the NFL with nine sacks. (The next closest is Myles Garrett with six.)

The Bucs’ run defense is also leaps and bounds better. They actually lead the NFL in yards per rush at 2.9. Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston are a load to deal with up front.

  • Tampa Bay: 2.9
  • Chicago: 3.0
  • Philadelphia: 3.2
  • San Francisco: 3.4
  • New England: 3.5

And if you want to dig deeper for confirmation, per Football Outsiders, Tampa’s defensive line ranks second overall in adjusted line yards and in the top five in almost every advanced metric that measures run defense.

The Tampa defense also should see the return of rookie linebacker Devin White, who will give them the speed that Bowles loves at the linebacker position.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

Now, while the run defense and pressure are strengths, the pass defense is certainly not. However, I’m not as concerned about that against the very conservative offense we’ve seen in New Orleans since Bridgewater took over. The vertical passing game has been lacking, as Sean Payton is seemingly handling Teddy with kid gloves until Brees gets back.

Bridgewater just doesn’t seem sure of himself in the pocket and prefers to check it down to the safe option more times than not. That’s not how you beat the Bucs, whose pressure should give Bridgewater problems.

The special teams battle does concern me, as the Saints have one of the best special teams units in the NFL, while Tampa’s has been an absolute dumpster fire. Per Football Outsiders, the Saints have the No. 1 overall special teams this season compared to the Bucs’ 29th-ranked unit. Getting Ryan Smith back will help Tampa’s special teams, but this is still a major edge for the Saints.

Still, I think the Bucs actually find a way to win this game in New Orleans, although I obviously feel more comfortable with the 3.5.

I think Jameis will have some success through the air to Evans and Godwin against a very inconsistent Saints secondary. The Bucs offensive line has also been much better this year, which I think has a lot to do with coaching. Winston was hit only four times in 43 dropbacks against the Rams last week. In this particular matchup without Brees, the Bucs have the much more explosive offense.

You should be able to get or find a +3.5 at some point in the week, which is obviously important (more than 20% of NFL games have finished with a margin of three or fewer points since 2003).

Maybe you get a bad Winston game where he throws three picks, but I’m willing to ride with him here.

I also like the under 47, as I think Payton will continue to call a very conservative game, relying on his defense and special teams for as long as the Saints keep winning until Brees comes back.

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