The NFL Divisional Round will conclude following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints play four quarters or more on Sunday. By the start of the Bucs and Saints, we already know who the Buffalo Bills will be playing in the AFC Championship. The Bills defeated the Ravens last night by a score of 17-3 in a game they just grinded out with their defense. That’s a highly encouraging sign for the Bills.
The fact they won is the most important thing, but how they did it can’t be ignored. We know that Josh Allen can play football, and that the Bills’ offense is dangerous. However, the defense hasn’t matched the offensive output for the Bills during the regular season. That was not true on Saturday night, though. If the Bills play with that same intensity next week, the Browns or Chiefs are going to have some work ahead of them.
The most intriguing quarterback matchup of the Divisional Round has to be Tom Brady vs Drew Brees. These are two of the best signal callers to ever step on the field in the NFL. They are both going to the Hall of Fame, and could have a Super Bowl LV win to add to their growing list of accolades. The Buccaneers had to play last week to get to the Divisional Round. It was a rare occasion when Brady didn’t get to skip Wild Card Weekend.
Washington was unable to give Brady and the Bucs much stress, though. The Bucs cleared Washington with ease for a 31-23 win. The score sounds closer than the game actually was. Tampa was in full control of that game and the final result was never in doubt. They face a stingier test on the road against the Saints. This is a Saints team that the Bucs have already lost to twice this season.
The Saints beat the Bucs, 34-23, to open the season, and then beat the Bucs on the road in their next meeting, 38-3. Can the Saints get it done three times in a row? The good news for the Saints is that they know that they can beat this team. The bad news is that beating Tom Brady three times in one season is almost unheard of. If you don’t think Brady and the Buccaneers won’t be prepared on Sunday you have another thing coming. Head below for our free Buccaneers vs. Saints props for January 17, 2021 in the NFL Divisional Round.
— NFL (@NFL) January 17, 2021
Tom Brady Passing Yards
Like I said, you really don’t believe that Tom Brady and the Buccaneers won’t be prepared for the Saints on Sunday? Despite two losses against the Saints, I find it improbable that the Bucs are going to go into this game without any focus. Expect a much better performance out of them this time around.
Brady chewed up a very underrated Washington defense last week for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. If he had to, Brady could have eclipsed 400 yards. Washington wasn’t really moving the ball, so the Bucs took some time to milk the clock late in the contest. Against the Saints, there likely won’t be any time for killing the clock.
In the first two meetings against the Saints, Brady passed for 239 yards and 209 yards. The Saints’ defense frustrated Brady, as he threw 5 interceptions with just 2 touchdowns between the two outings. I’m expecting a bounce-back performance for Brady in this one versus the Saints. They may lose, but Brady isn’t going to go down quietly in this one.
It doesn’t look like much because it was against Washington, but keep in mind that the Football Team finished second in the NFL with only 191.8 passing yards allowed per game. Brady didn’t throw for 381 yards against scrubs. Conversely, the Saints conceded 217 yards a game through the air in the regular season. They might have fooled Brady twice, but I see him responding the third time.
Jared Cook Receiving Yards
This is a case of what I see as a value play. I think the total here should be higher on Jared Cook’s receiving prop, so there appears to be some value here. Cook was a productive member of the Saints’ offense in 2020. He may not have been a game-changer, but Cook played an important role at tight end for the Saints.
The 33-year-old had 37 receptions for 504 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s been seeing plenty of targets recently. Brees has targeted Cook at least four times in the last five games. Through that stretch, Cook made 15 receptions for 219 yards, an average of 43.8 yards per game. Cook recorded 82 and 43 yards in his previous two outings against the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers.
He recorded a touchdown against the Panthers as well. Cook wreaked havoc on the Buccaneers’ defense earlier in the season. He caught 5 receptions for 80 yards, including a season-long reception of 46 yards in the Saints’ 34-23 win. I will back Cook to register at least 32 yards on Sunday against the Buccaneers.
Cameron Brate Receiving Yards
From one tight end to another on the opposite sideline. This time we’re looking at the Buccaneers’ Cameron Brate. This may not be Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but Gronk and Brate have combined to be a productive duo. Brate caught 28 receptions for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns in the regular season. He saved his best performance of the year against Washington last week in the Wild Card Round.
Brate had 4 receptions for 80 yards. He’s been a reliable option for Brady when he needs a third or fourth option. Note that Brate has had at least 22 yards receiving in three of his last four outings, along with seven times in his last nine games. This looks like another good value play in a spot where the total looks too low.