Two NFC South rivals do battle when the New Orleans Saints head to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Bucs.
New Orleans Saints (4-8) at Tampa Bay Bucs (5-6)
- Location: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, FL
- Time: Monday, December 5th at 8:15 p.m. ET
- Channel: ESPN
- MONEYLINE: TB ML (-190), NO ML (+158)
- SPREAD: TB -3.5
- OVER/UNDER: 40.5
It might be shocking when you see the records above, but this is a crucial game for the NFC playoff picture. New Orleans is currently 14th in the NFC standings, but they are only 1.5 games behind Tampa for first place in the NFC South. The Bucs did beat the Saints 20-10 back in Week 2, so this is essentially a must-win situation for New Orleans if they want any shot at the postseason.
Even though the Bucs are currently in the playoffs, this has been a trying year for them. They come into this game ranked 27th in scoring this season but are actually 5th in passing offense.
Tom Brady has thrown for 3,051 yards and 14 touchdowns with just two interceptions. Mike Evans paces the receivers with 51 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns, and Chris Godwin appears to be fully recovered from last year’s ACL tear, hauling in 60 passes for 585 yards and two touchdowns of his own.
Despite their offensive line injuries before the season, Tampa Bay has allowed just 17 sacks this year, which is the second-fewest of any team in the NFL. However, they will be dealing with yet another injury as starting right tackle Tristan Wirfs is expected to miss several games after suffering an ankle injury during overtime last week.
That could be important against a Saints defense that has 33 sacks, which is 8th-best in the NFL. They’ve been good at generating consistent pressure with their front four since they’ve only blitzed 17.8% of the time on passing attempts, the ninth-lowest rate in the league.
If the Saints can put pressure on Brady, it should make scoring tough for the Bucs since their run game has been brutal all season. They average the fewest rushing yards per game of any team in the NFL, are ranked 31st in rush DVOA, and have just four rushing touchdowns all season. Taysom Hill, New Orleans’ starting tight end, has five. However, the Saints rank 22nd in the NFL, allowing 129.1 rushing yards per game, so this may be a chance for Tampa to find some success on the ground.
They should also have some success on defense since New Orleans has not had a good offensive year. They are 20th in scoring offense so far this season, ranking 22nd in rushing and 11th in passing. Without Michael Thomas, the Saints receivers have been led by rookie Chris Olave, who has 56 catches for 822 yards and three touchdowns.
While New Orleans has been able to hit on the big play, their biggest weakness is in holding onto the ball. They are dead last in the NFL in turnover margin this season and are tied for 30th in the league in interceptions thrown per game. While some of that remains from the three games that Jameis Winston started, Andy Dalton does have 10 turnovers in his nine starts for far this season.
This could win up being a sloppy, ugly game, but with so much on the line, it’s hard not to see the more talented Bucs team coming through.
Tampa Bay 23 New Orleans 17
Chris Godwin Over 67.5 receiving yards
We talked above about Godwin finally starting to look healthy. He has a 27% target share since Week 7 and has seen double-digit targets in five of his last six games. If you’re going to give Godwin six-plus catches, I find it hard to believe he can’t hit this prop.
This is weirdly still listed at 58.5 receiving yards on Caesars so check that out if you can.
SPORTSBOOK: Bet at BetMGM (-120)
Under 4.5 total touchdowns
You can see from my prediction above that I’m banking on just four touchdowns in this game. We’ve talked about the offensive struggles for both teams, but I also wanted to add that Tampa Bay is 25th in red zone conversion rate. The Saints are also below average on their red zone conversions but have a good red zone defense, so I think we could see a lot of field goals here.
SPORTSBOOK: Bet at DRAFTKINGS (-135)
Adam Trautman anytime touchdown
This is just a fun one, so don’t put tons of money on it, but Trautman will be starting at tight end for the Saints with Juwan Johnson out. Yes, Taysom Hill will factor in, but the Saints really only use him as a running threat. Andy Dalton loves to throw to his tight ends in the red zone and Johnson has five touchdowns in his last five games (not counting the SF game because he was hurt early). I think the 6’5″ Trautman could be a good safety blanket.
SPORTSBOOK: Bet at FANDUEL (-114)