Saints and Bucs Tangle in Ugly NFC South Slugfest

NFL Dec 04, 2022

Key Betting Stat:  Tampa Bay has lost 6 of their last 9 games and is a dreadful 1-7-1 ATS in those games (worst in the NFL in that span)

Monday Night Football

New Orleans at Tampa Bay
Line: Buccaneers -3.5
O/U: 40.5


It's hard to believe, but this game between two losers actually has playoff implications.

Even though it's December and we're into Week 13, the NFC South is so bad and wide open that any of the four sub-.500 teams can still win the division and earn a post-season slot. Incredibly, all four teams have been outscored by opponents this season.

If Tampa Bay wins, with a 1.5-game lead in the division that's probably a nail in the coffin of the other three teams -- Atlanta, Carolina, and New Orleans.

If the Saints can pull off an upset in this MNF division rivalry game, it then becomes a 5-game season and with several inter-division games still to play, turns into a drunken crapshoot.

About Tampa Bay

The fact that Tampa Bay isn't favored by more than -3.5 points shows just how far trust in the Bucs has fallen in betting markets. Consider that Tampa Bay has lost 6 of their last 9 games SU and is a dreadful 1-7-1 ATS in those games (worst in the NFL in that span). While Tom Brady gets most of the attention, it's actually the Bucs' miserable running game that's the problem. The 100-yard mark isn't exactly a high bar for any NFL offense, yet the Bucs have been held under 100 yards rushing the last 9/10 games. That's a horrific statistic, and places lots of pressure on Brady and the receivers to compensate.

We should credit Tampa Bay's outstanding defense for keeping them in many games--and it's no surprise that 9/11 Tampa Bay games went UNDER. The Bucs rank #3 in PPG and #4 in YPG, which sorta' makes them the Broncos of the NFC.

About New Orleans

Meanwhile, New Orleans is an even bigger mess. The Saints' offense has gone into hibernation early, scoring just 12 PPG in its last 3 games on average, including getting shutout last week. This is a brutal stretch of for the Saints' red-headed offense, facing the Steelers (with T.J. Watt back), the #1 defense in the NFL (SFO), and now the #3 defense (TB).

However, New Orleans' defense is finally playing up to expectations as they've allowed only 16 PPG in the last five contests. The Saints rank #12 NFL in total defense and also apply pressure with 33 sacks, #8 in the league. If they can get to Brady, they've got a shot to win outright. New Orleans has been spectacular in the red zone, allowing TDs less than the New Orleans defense as a game changer.

No surprise, the Saints are also on a strong UNDER trend -- 4 of the last 5 New Orleans' games stayed UNDER the total.

The Wager

We can probably conclude this game won't be a shootout. The UNDER is very tempting.

We're also inclined to grab points when and where possible. Tampa Bay's terrible ATS record, plus the fact they can't run the ball, really plays into the Saints' strengths.

So long as Andy Dalton doesn't play like Andy Dalton, New Orleans should keep this game close.

Even though TB defeated NOR 20-10 earlier this season, the Saints have played well in Tampa Bay. New Orleans won 8 of the last 11 games in the series and covered in each of their last four visits to Tampa Bay.

The hook with the Saints is enough to reel us in with a wager.

The Pick: New Orleans Saints +3.5 [Full Game] (-110)


Tampa Bay 20, New Orleans 19