Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Line: Tampa Bay -3
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
When: Monday, 12/5 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Tampa Bay will try to climb back to the .500 mark on the season when it hosts New Orleans in a matchup between struggling NFC South rivals on Monday night.
The Buccaneers had picked up consecutive wins over the Rams and Seahawks in early November before losing to Cleveland in overtime last week. They are still edging out Atlanta (5-8), Carolina (4-8) and New Orleans (4-8) atop the abysmal NFC South standings, though.
DraftKings has Tampa Bay priced as a heavy -330 favorite to win the division, while Atlanta (+650), New Orleans (+800) and Carolina (14-1) are all viewed as longshots. The Buccaneers picked up a 20-10 win over the Saints as 2.5-point road favorites in Week 2 when these teams met for the first time.
“The object at the beginning of the season is to win the division,” Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles said. “That’s still intact for us and it’s still alive for us, so that’s what we’re trying to do. If you get in and get on a run, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Oddsmakers opened the Buccaneers as 6.5-point favorites in this matchup, but the early betting action has driven that line down to -3 as of Monday morning. The total has also seen some movement, dipping from 42.5 to 41 points.
Tampa Bay looked like one of the top teams in the NFL at this stage last year, but the Saints went on the road and sprung a 9-0 upset win as 11.5-point road underdogs. New Orleans had won seven straight meetings between these teams in the regular season prior to Tampa Bay’s win in Week 2.
The Buccaneers tend to go as their offense goes, scoring 19-plus points in four of their five wins while going 1-4 straight up and 0-4-1 against the spread when they have been held under that number. Veteran quarterback Tom Brady has completed 66.2% of his passes for 3,051 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions this season.
His top target has been wide receiver Mike Evans, who has 51 receptions for 702 yards and three scores. Evans was ejected from the first meeting between these teams following an altercation with New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin has 60 receptions for 585 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Leonard Fournette has 43 catches for 315 yards. Fournette is the team’s leading rusher with 462 yards, but he is only averaging 3.4 yards per carry.
New Orleans is coming off a disastrous outing in San Francisco, getting shut out for the first time since 2001. The Saints were burned by a pair of fumbles from running back Alvin Kamara, as quarterback Andy Dalton wound up being the leading rusher with four carries for 21 yards.
Kamara, Mark Ingram and Taysom Hill combined to run the ball 17 times for 36 yards, but they are facing a Tampa Bay defense that is allowing 123.2 rushing yards per game. The Buccaneers really struggled last week, allowing 189 rushing yards to the Browns on 34 carries.
New Orleans has covered the spread at a 2-5 clip in its last seven games, going ‘under’ in four of its last five games. Tampa Bay has only covered once in its last nine outings, but it is 14-5 in its last 19 games at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers have gone ‘under’ in six of their last seven contests.
The pick: Tampa Bay -3
New Orleans has lost three of its last four games by double digits, with its lone win coming against the injury-ravaged Rams. The Saints have failed to cover the spread in five straight road games and lost to Tampa Bay by double digits at home early in the year. The Buccaneers are coming off an overtime loss, but they have still won two of their last three games. New Orleans had allowed at least 20 points in four straight road games prior to its loss to San Francisco, so Tampa Bay should be able to reach its magic number of 19 on Monday night. I’d much rather back Brady than Dalton in a pivotal game, especially now that the price is cheaper.