The New Orleans Saints were perennial postseason contenders during the final three seasons with Drew Brees at quarterback.
Now, with Jameis Winston at the helm, the Saints have been written off as a true threat in the NFC. This week, though, the Saints have a chance to put the haters to bed by upsetting the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Saints are currently 5.5 home underdogs, and while there isn’t much confidence in the Saints to pull of the upset, there is at least a bit of hope for keeping the game close.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won three consecutive games by six-plus points, with two of those wins coming in blowout fashion. Meanwhile, the New Orleans have lacked consistency throughout the campaign so far.
That has the vast majority of the gang laying 5.5 points with Tampa in New Orleans Sunday.
“While the Saints boast one of the league’s top rushing defenses, it’s the passing offense of the Bucs that should write the story for this game,” Kenyon said. “Tom Brady is playing at an MVP level coming off of a four-touchdown performance in a blowout win over Chicago. The Saints are one of the NFL’s bigger Jekyll and Hyde squads who have blown out Green Bay and beat the Patriots on the road, but have also lost games to the Panthers and Giants. I’m surprised this line isn’t closer to 7.5.”
The Saints also just lost guard Andrus Peat to a pectoral injury, while the Bucs look as though they’ll get future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski back from a rib injury. Tampa Bay looks like the safe bet.
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Saints 20
MDS’s take: The Saints struggled to put points on the board against a bad Seahawks defense on Monday night. It won’t be any easier against a good Buccaneers defense on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 20, Saints 10.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Saints 17.
Tom Brady continues to defy age for the Buccaneers (6-1), throwing at least four touchdown passes in four of Tampa Bay’s seven games. Coach Bruce Arians said he was hopeful that tight end Rob Gronkowski (ribs), linebacker Lavonte David (ankle) and cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring) would return to the team.
The Saints (4-2) are ascending but desperately need injured playmakers to return and reduce the load on running back Alvin Kamara. Deonte Harris (hamstring), a receiver and punt returner, and quarterback Taysom Hill (concussion) could be available, but receiver Michael Thomas is still recovering from off-season ankle injury. Without him, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles can focus on containing Kamara and baiting quarterback Jameis Winston into miscues against his old team. Pick: Buccaneers -5
I don’t really believe in home-field advantage anymore outside of Denver, but the Saints will have a crazed crowd on Halloween in New Orleans working in their favor Sunday. Bruce Arians has coached in that before (a 20-10 loss in 2010 as the Pittsburgh OC) and knows communication will be at a premium this week. The Bucs are coming off their cleanest game of the year with just one penalty for 10 yards.
The pick: Buccaneers
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