Buccaneers vs. Saints Odds & Pick: Fade Tom Brady In His Tampa Bay Debut (Sunday, Sept. 13)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski make their Tampa Bay debuts today as the Bucs face the dangerous New Orleans Saints.
- Despite the excitement surrounding Tampa Bay's new-look offense, Raheem Palmer thinks the Saints will get the job done.
- Check out Palmer's full preview and analysis with updated odds below.
Buccaneers vs. Saints Odds
The new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by Tom Brady open up the 2020 season on the road against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
Oddsmakers opened the Saints as 6-point favorites, marking the first time in five years that a team with Tom Brady on it is an underdog. Given the rarity of this scenario, the line was immediately bet down to -3.5.
With all the new additions, are the Buccaneers overvalued?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers replace Jameis Winston with a three-time MVP and six-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. The biggest impact the change will make may be the most important: Turnovers.
The Buccaneers had a league-high 41 giveaways, with 30 interceptions and a record-breaking seven pick sixes. Brady threw 29 interceptions combined over the past four seasons.
Turnovers aside, it remains to be seen if Brady will be an upgrade over Winston in other areas.
Father Time waits for no man, not even Hall of Fame quarterbacks. It caught up to Peyton Manning. It eventually caught up to Brett Favre. Quarterbacks age 40 and up tend to face steep and dramatic declines.
Last season, Brady declined in every statistical metric, including completion percentage (60.8%), passer rating (88.0), touchdowns (24), touchdown rate (3.9) and he had the lowest DVOA of his career (2.4% per Football Outsiders).
Receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans combined for 2,490 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2019, arguably making them the best receiving combination in the league. The Bucs also added Rob Gronkowski as well as running backs Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy to bolster an offense that already has Ronald Jones, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard.
After 20 seasons in Foxborough, Brady is learning a new offense and integrating many new pieces in a season with limited training camp and no preseason. It remains to be seen if Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and Brady fit together stylistically, or if Brady has enough in the tank to properly utilize all the weapons around him.
Defensively, the strength of the Bucs is their front seven with Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh. They led the Buccaneers to a top-ranked run defense last season, holding opposing ball carriers to 3.3 yards per carry. But the Bucs still ranked fourth in points allowed, largely due to teams capitalizing on a secondary that struggled to defend deep passes finishing 30th in passing yards allowed (270.1 yards per game).
The Bucs are starting one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL this season with rookie Antoine Winfield Jr., Jordan Whitehead, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton-Davis who are all under the age of 24. The lack of experience makes it tough to know what to expect from the unit but it’s certainly something to keep in mind going forward.
New Orleans Saints
I can’t stress this enough: Continuity will be key season. I’m personally bullish on teams that returned the same core. It helps when you’re the Saints and arguably have the best roster in the NFL.
They finished second in Football Outsiders’ total DVOA metric last season, Brees is still playing like a Hall of Fame quarterback, and Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are still amongst the best at their position.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints gave up 21.3 points per game and ranked eighth in defensive DVOA. They’re stacked with edge rushers like Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport and Trey Hendrickson, and defensive tackles like Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata and Malcom Brown. In the back end, they return two-time Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins.
The Saints addressed one of their glaring weaknesses this off season by signing Emmanuel Sanders, a receiver who can take some attention away from Thomas. With Teddy Bridgewater gone via free agency, the signing of Winston is underrated as it allows the Saints to use Taysom Hill in creative packages without worrying about an injury to their back up quarterback.
I think this line is short. Oddsmakers opening this line Saints -6 says a lot about their perception of these two teams. With the Bucs seeing inflated point spreads due to their popularity, this is a team I’ll be looking to fade early and often.
This may not be the prevalent sentiment among most football fans, but I have to pose the question: Are we sure that 43-year-old Brady is a 2.5-point upgrade over Winston?
Two seasons ago, I’d agree with the line move. But after watching Brady go from above-average quarterback in the first half of the 2019 season to a below-average quarterback towards the end, I’m not so sure.
Brady’s second- half Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (-25) and DVOA (-12.6%) were nearly identical to Winston’s (-32 DYAR, -12.6% DVOA), per Football Outsiders, which means bettors are essentially paying a premium for Brady’s name and not his production.
As a whole, I’m not expecting the explosive Buccaneers offense we saw in 2019 and I think we see Evans and Godwin take a huge step back while this team finds its chemistry. Evans is questionable with a hamstring injury — you can check our Week 1 Injury Report for updates — which would likely move Lattimore onto Godwin if Evans doesn’t play.
Tampa’s young secondary should be exploitable for a Saints offense that goes into this year knowing it’s Super Bowl or bust.
PICK: Saints -3.5