NFC South foes will battle it out Monday night as the New Orleans Saints (4-8) take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6). The Buccaneers will host this one at Raymond James Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 8:15 pm ET.
The Saints come into this game having lost three of their last four games, including a 13-0 shutout at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers last week. In the loss, Andy Dalton threw for 204 yards, but he also led a weak rushing attack with just 21 yards on the ground.
Tampa Bay also suffered a loss in their last outing as they were downed by the Cleveland Browns 23-17 in overtime. Tom Brady threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns in the defeat, but the Buccaneers let a seven-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers come into this one as the favorites playing at home. They are -196 to win, while the Saints’ moneyline sits at +164. The spread features New Orleans +3.5 (-110), and the over/under for total points is 40.5.
Saints Struggling, But In Striking Distance
The Saints come into Week 13 ranked last in the NFC South, but they are surprisingly within striking distance in the division. Sitting just 1.5 games behind the Buccaneers, if the Saints can steal a win on the road, they will be back in the thick of things.
Offensively, New Orleans has struggled this season as they rank just 20th in the league in scoring, averaging 20.8 points per game (18.3 on the road).
Under center is veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. In nine games this season, he has thrown for 2,023 yards, 14 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
Given that Dalton has never had the pedigree to go out and win too many games on his own, the running attack is going to have to pick it up Monday night. Especially coming off of a subpar game last weekend, the Saints hope Alvin Kamara can do some damage in this one.
On the year, Kamara has rushed 131 times for 524 yards and a touchdown. He is also the team’s second-leading receiver, hauling in 65 receptions for 422 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the team ranks 20th in the league, allowing an average of 23.3 points per game to opponents (25.2 on the road).
Buccaneers Trying To Find Consistency
After winning back-to-back games before their bye, the Buccaneers finally felt confident that they had turned the season around.
Unfortunately for Buccaneers’ fans, they had a huge letdown coming out of the bye and dropped a painful one to the Browns last week.
While they still sit atop their division, at 5-6, that says a lot more about the quality of the division than their own play. Tom Brady and the rest of the Buccaneers will look to get back on track against a struggling Saints team.
Speaking of Brady, the future Hall-of-Famer has thrown for 3,051 yards, 14 touchdowns, and two interceptions this season. His favorite target to this point has been wide receiver Mike Evans, who has 51 receptions for 702 yards and three scores.
On the ground, Leonard Fournette has rushed 135 times this season for 462 yards and three scores. He is questionable for this game, though, as he recovers from a hip injury.
While the offense has been a bit inconsistent, the defense has played pretty well. They rank sixth in scoring defense this season, allowing 18.5 points per game to opponents (22 at home).
Take Tampa Bay To Win And Cover
Neither of these teams have been very trustworthy this year, but the Buccaneers seem like the safer bet here. Not only does their defense have the ability to determine the game, but they have played better at home (3-3) than the Saints have played on the road (1-4).
This one could be sloppy, hence the over/under set at 40.5, but in the end, expect Tampa Bay to win by at least a touchdown.
Take the Buccaneers to both win and to cover the 3.5-point spread (-110).