Two divisional rivals will square off during the second wave of NFL games in Sunday’s Week 17 as the Saints head to Tampa Bay to do battle with the Buccaneers. These teams are polar opposites of one another entering Week 17 as New Orleans enters with an 11-4 record and can clinch the NFC South divisional crown with a win. They’ll also secure homefield advantage in the wild-card round – something that is pivotal with a raucous fan base like they have in New Orleans. The Saints will be motivated, while the Bucs will be just there to show up. Tampa enters with a dismal 4-11 record, and many figured they’d be a whole lot better this season and be able to take that next step. It wasn’t to be, and they seem content to just play out the final week quietly before regrouping for 2018. Read on below for full game analysis as we evaluate whether or not the Saints can achieve their mission of winning the division.
Saints vs. Buccaneers Betting Odds:
New Orleans Saints -5 (-110)
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5 (-110)
Over 48.5 (-110)
Under 48.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Saints vs. Buccaneers Pick:
Last week the Bucs oddly played pretty inspired football and gave the powerhouse Panthers all they could handle. Of course, as has been the theme all season – it wasn’t enough and they lost yet another devastating contest. That surely has all but deflated Tampa Bay, and they know changes have to be coming once again for this organization in the off-season. They’ve got some pieces, but they need to be a lot more organized and disciplined if it’s going to translate into success in a very tough NFC South division.
Though they can again play spoilers in Week 17, it won’t last long come Sunday afternoon. The Saints will pound the Bucs with their vicious running game, led by the dynamic duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. New Orleans has become a much better road team this season, and a solid running attack definitely helps them with that.
Kamara absolutely dominated the Bucs when these rivals first met. Ingram too for that matter, and there is zero reason to think that won’t be the formula to success in Week 17. The Bucs have only become more banged up on the defensive side of thing since then, and they’re vulnerable through the air as well. If the run game gets old, Drew Brees can take to the air and shred Tampa that way. The Bucs’ biggest need this offseason will be upgrades within their secondary. They are brutal and Brees should be able to exploit it with regularity. I’d say Michael Thomas is in for a big outing come Sunday.
The biggest change for New Orleans this season though has to be their improved defense. A defense which will pose problems for the Bucs – even on the road. For Week 17, the Bucs have lost some key offensive linemen, so I’d expect Cameron Jordan of New Orleans to be able to apply a ton of pressure to Jameis Winston. The Saints can also clamp down on the run game pretty well, and this should force the Bucs to become fairly one-dimensional on offense. Downfield, the Bucs’ passing options are limited against this blanketing Saints’ secondary. Rookie Marshon Lattimore should cover Mike Evans and that won’t leave much for Winston. Moving the chains will be tough for the Bucs on Sunday.
I think this spread is oddly short, especially for a team that needs to win to secure a divisional title. New Orleans is a better team by far, and this is a complete squad that should be getting legitimate Super Bowl love. I don’t think the Bucs will be all that motivated either. Take the Saints in a blowout.
PICK = Saints -5 (-110)