The New Orleans Saints get ready to host a Sunday night Divisional Round bout with the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the right to move on to face the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Conference Championship Game.
The Saints swept the regular season series against the Bucs as well as the rest of the NFC South; a feat never before achieved in the division. Now, as the NFL landscape prepares for Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady part III of the season, the Saints are a three-point favorite to advance one step closer to the Super Bowl.
Straight-Up: Tampa Bay (+140), New Orleans (-159)
Against the Spread: Tampa Bay (+3), New Orleans (-3)
Over/Under: o52 (-110), u52 (-110)
Generally, teams are given three points simply for being the home team. If that’s true here, this game is essentially a pick ‘em with home field advantage. This week, for health and safety purposes admit the ongoing pandemic, that advantage is limited to 3,500 fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. So instead of reading too much into past performances at home, let’s look at tight spreads in recent years.
No blowouts expected
To start, let’s expand just a bit and see how well the Saints, since 2017, have performed against the Bucs when favored by five or fewer points including being the underdog.
There are four such games in the last four season. Through those games New Orlean sis 4-0 both straight-up and against the spread, covering in every matchup. That includes the smallest margin of victory being the seven-point win to open the 2020 season 31-24.
They’ve also scored 31 or more points in each of those matchups winning with margins of seven, 11, 17, and 35 which came as an underdog on the road.
How about since 2006 against the Bucs? 11-4 and have covered in all 11 of those wins and have lost only once such home game back in 2007.
Surprisingly, the Saints are not as effective against the Bucs when Vegas views them more favorably. They have gone only 7-6 when favored by more than five points against Tampa since 2006.
Beyond just the Bucs, the Saints are 21-9 against all opponents since 2017 when favored by five or fewer points. Covering in every single win. So, if you’re a better choosing the Saints to win, you’re probably giving them those three points as well.
So far throughout the 2020 season, including the playoffs, New Orleans and their opponents have hit the over ten times and the under seven times. When the over/under is set to 50 or more points, the teams have hit the over three times, the under twice and New Orleans is also 3-2 in those games. In those five games, their two losses came in games where the over was hit, hosting the Green Bay Packers and at the Las Vegas Raiders.
That’s a consistent trend for New Orleans. When the O/U is set at 50 points or more, they’ve come in under 8 of 11 times since 2006. In those 11 games, the Saints are 9-2.
A 50-point total is pretty high considering the highest projected total this season was 58 points. That means this game is expected to be a bit of shootout, much different than the 38-3 blowout in Week 9. With a three-point spread, the final score is expected to be around 25-28 for the over, 24-27 for the under.
Three wins and three hundred yards
A lot has been said regarding the Saints having to face the Bucs for the third time this season.In games where teams are facing each other for the third time after a regular season sweep, the winners of the regular series matchups are 20-12 all-time over the losers. That’s a 62.5% win rate.
Another big element of this game to watch comes down to Brady’s passing yardage total. With a high total expected against both team’s formidable run defenses, one would expect big passing days. The Saints defense hasn’t allowed a 300-yard passer since Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 15 of 2019. Sports Betting Dime is giving Brady the odds to hit 300 yards passing before Drew Brees.
With all of the rumors swirling around Drew Brees’ potential retirement after this season and the Green Bay Packers’ decisive win over the Los Angeles Rams, the Divisional Round game may quite possibly be Drew Brees’ final game in the Superdome. If that’s the case, we may see a very motivated New Orleans Saints team.
Brees Passing Yards: 274.5
Brees Total Completions: 24.0
Brady Passing Yards: 292.5
Brady Total Completions: 25.0
Kamara Rushing Yards: 65.5
Evans (TB) Total Targets: 6.5
Buccaneers Total Hurries/Pressures/Sacks:
Odds Hendrickson (NO) Records at Least One Sack: -125
ODDS TO SCORE FIRST TD:
Jones II: +1000
ODDS FOR FIRST INTERCEPTION THROWN:
ODDS FOR FIRST QB TO 300 YARDS:
What are your predictions for the Divisional matchup? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RossJacksonNOLA and subscribe to my daily Saints podcast, Locked On Saints.