NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Saints vs. Bucs: An Expert Bet On Latest Sunday Night Football Over/Under
Getty Images. Pictured: Bucs QB Tom Brady and Saints QB Taysom Hill (left to right)
- NFL odds for Saints vs. Bucs continue to hold with the over/under sitting at 45.5 points as kickoff approaches.
- So where's the value on Sunday Night Football based on the latest odds? Our expert breaks it down.
- Find his predictions and picks below, featuring how he's betting the total.
|Time||8:20 p.m. ET|
The outlook of the New Orleans’ season has certainly changed since the last time these two teams met in Week 8, when the Saints pulled off the upset as a home underdog, moving their record to 5-2 on the season. Jameis Winston was lost for the season soon after due to a torn ACL.
The optimism after Week 8 has since turned to desperation heading into the rematch in Tampa. The Saints have since gone 1-5, with the lone victory coming last week against a horrid Jets team.
However, the 6-7 Saints still have hopes of a postseason berth by grabbing a spot in a wide open NFC wild-card race. New Orleans entered Week 15 sitting 11th in the playoff standings with the same record as Washington, which holds the final playoff spot at No. 7.
That makes every game extremely meaningful, so New Orleans really needs to avoid dropping to 6-8. A victory would put them in decent shape with back-to-back home games on deck against the Dolphins and Panthers before closing the regular season in Atlanta.
How much would an upset over Tom Brady and Tampa mean for the Saints? A win would make them a slight favorite to make the playoffs (prior to any other Week 15 results), while a loss would drop them down to a probability of somewhere in the 15-20% range, according to my numbers.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has its eyes on the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, which currently belongs to the Packers. The Bucs enter Week 15 with the same 10-3 record as both Green Bay and Arizona. Tampa Bay has two games against the Panthers and one against the Jets, so its chances of getting the top spot seem good.
A win this week would lock up a playoff spot and the division for Brady’s bunch. It would also give them somewhere in the neighborhood of a 40-50% chance of ending up with the No. 1 seed, while a loss would drop those odds closer to 10%.
Brady is 0-3 against New Orleans in the regular season since joining the Bucs and 21-5 in all other games. Last year, the Saints became the first division foe to sweep Brady in his 20-year career. Let’s see if New Orleans can do it again.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Saints vs. Bucs Injury Report
- T Ryan Ramczyk (knee): Out
- T Terron Armstead (knee): Out
- TE Garrett Griffin (hamstring): Out
- LB Kaden Elliss (hamstring): Questionable
- WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey (hamstring): Questionable
- CB Jamel Dean (illness): Out
- CB Richard Sherman (Achilles): Doubtful
- RB Leonard Fournette (ankle): Questionable
- S Jordan Whitehead (calf): Questionable
- S Antoine Winfield Jr. (foot): Questionable
Saints vs. Bucs Matchup
|Saints Offense||DVOA Rank||Bucs Defense|
|Saints Defense||DVOA Rank||Bucs Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Saints Offense Needs Boost
The New Orleans offense is bad. In fairness, the Saints are down to their third starting quarterback of the season and have dealt with an inordinate amount of injuries. However, it’s not like the picture is any rosier at the moment with the exception of getting Alvin Kamara back. The wide receiver room is decimated with a banged-up offensive line and a limited quarterback under center.
For the season, the Saints offense ranks 22nd in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play and 25th in Success Rate. This was an above-average unit with Winston under center, but it’s been downhill since losing him.
Sean Payton remains one of the best offensive play-callers and schemers in the league, but there’s only so much he can do with this roster.
The star of the show in the Big Easy is clearly the defense, which ranks sixth in EPA per play and first in Success Rate this season. When adjusted for opponent, the Saints defense is fifth.
New Orleans has been absolutely dominant against the run. It grades out as above average against opposing the pass, although it has had some head-scratching performances on that front.
That said, injuries haven’t helped and this group should be as healthy as it’s been all season on Sunday night. The Saints appear likely to get a huge boost if Cam Jordan returns after he missed the first start of his career last week with a concussion. With Marcus Davenport also back in the mix (he missed six games), the pressure rate that has been lacking should increase to more normal levels.
Can Buccaneers Get Over New Orleans Hump?
There’s not much I need to say about the Bucs, who returned every starter from last year’s Super Bowl championship club. I had them rated as the No. 1 team in the league coming into the season, and that’s where they remain — with an even larger gap between them and the next best team. This is the best team in the NFL.
At 44 years old, Brady somehow looks as good as ever, leading the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns. It doesn’t hurt to have one of the best wide receiver groups in the league and an outstanding offensive line that has provided him with 65 more clean pockets than any other quarterback in the NFL.
It shouldn’t shock anybody to hear this offense leads the NFL in both EPA per play and Success Rate.
On the other hand, the defense has regressed a bit this year, primarily due to injuries in the secondary. Overall, the Bucs rank eighth in EPA per play and 17th in Success Rate. Most surprisingly, the rush defense hasn’t been as stout as expected.
Also, just like last year, Tampa ranks third in pressure rate while leading the league in blitz percentage.
The Bucs defense is still a top-10 unit after adjusting for opponent, but it’s certainly not as dominant as the one we saw at the end of last season.
NFL Predictions: Saints vs. Bucs
I like the under here.
The New Orleans defense just seems to match up very well with Tom Brady. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has been able to scheme up pressure, while confusing Brady with different looks. The Saints also have the talent on the back end to match up with the Bucs’ elite talent on the outside.
Just take a look at some of these stats in regards to pressure and sacks allowed by Tampa over the past two seasons, including the playoffs:
- 49 pressures (12.3 per game) and 10 sacks (2.5) in four games against the Saints
- 249 pressures (8.5) and 33 sacks (1.1) in the other 29 games
Brady’s numbers when not under any pressure are pristine this year, but some drop to more pedestrian levels when under pressure, including 5.8 yards per attempt and a 59.8% Adjusted Completion Percentage. Those two stats put him at 20th and 22nd in the league among the 30 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs under pressure.
How about turnover-worthy plays compared to big-time throws?
- Nine big-time throws to 10 turnover-worthy plays in four games against the Saints
- 79 to 16 in the other 29 games
That’s a ratio of almost 5-1 against everybody else compared to below 1 against New Orleans. Seven of his 25 interceptions in a Bucs uniform have come against the Saints, against whom Brady has a TD-INT ratio of 8-7 compared to 46-10 against the rest of the league.
Remember, Brady didn’t throw more than 200 yards in the Bucs’ playoff win in New Orleans last year. The story of that game was some bad Drew Brees interceptions, which set the Bucs up with short fields. Tampa Bay’s touchdown drives were three, 20 and 40 yards, and the team only averaged 4.6 yards per play.
I just can’t see the Saints moving the ball consistently. Taysom Hill, who may still be dealing with a finger injury, is just not the guy to attack this Bucs secondary, especially with an undermanned group of receivers.
New Orleans is completely reliant on its ground game, which is a bad place to be in against a unit that has thrived against the run over the past two seasons. The Bucs also saw Josh Allen last week, which should help given his running ability.
Yes, the Bucs play on the faster side (second in situational neutral pace), but the Saints are below average in that department. I also expect New Orleans to play even slower than usual, knowing it has to keep Brady on the sidelines to have a shot at pulling off the upset.
For you trend folks, divisional unders of 45-plus in Week 11 or later have gone 223-143-5 (61%) since 2003, per Action Labs, which is a 19% return on investment. I think that speaks to some weather factors in addition to the potential advantage the defenses have in what’s usually the second meeting of the season.
In regards to the side, I think it’s Saints or nothing above 10, but I don’t show enough value to pull the trigger. Backing Payton as an underdog is always intriguing. He boasts a gaudy 45-28-2 against the spread (61.6%) record when catching points, covering by an average margin of over 3.5 points per game. Only Mike Tomlin has been more profitable to bettors as a pup out of 137 coaches since 2003.
However, Payton just doesn’t have the same horses he usually has at his disposal and he’s facing a Bucs team that has dominated at Raymond James Stadium this year.
Just the under for me.
Pick: Under 46.5 | Bet to: 45.5
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