First place in the NFC South is on the line Sunday night as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) host the New Orleans Saints (5-2) at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff for this one is scheduled for 8:20 pm ET.
The Saints come into this one having won four games in a row, although none of them have been overly comfortable wins. In fact, their last three games have been won by just a field goal, their most recent being a 26-23 win over the Chicago Bears. They will look to win a fifth in a row on Sunday against the Bucs.
Speaking of the Buccaneers, they come in riding a three-game winning streak. In that span, they had a really impressive 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers but were only able to beat the Giants last week, 25-23. Like the Saints, they will look to keep their winning streak going Sunday night.
Tampa Bay comes into this one as the favorites playing at home. They currently sit -220 to win while the Saints are +184. The spread features the Saints +4.5 while the over/under for total points is 50.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, both are top-ten teams in terms of scoring. The Buccaneers rank 4th overall averaging 30.9 points per game. The Saints rank 7th, averaging 29.4 points.
On the defensive side, the Buccaneers have the advantage. They rank 7th in points allowed per game at 20.6. The Saints fall to 23rd overall, allowing an average of 28.1 points per game.
Saints Look To Take Over First Place In Division
This is a big game for New Orleans as we are at the midpoint of the season. While the Saints definitely look like a playoff team, this could go a long way in determining the division winner and wildcard team.
Leading the Saints is quarterback Drew Brees. While age has forced him into avoiding the long ball in favor of the short passing game, he still has been effective. He has thrown for 1,898 yards, 13 touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Brees also might be getting his best receiver back. While he is technically considered questionable, Michael Thomas is expected to play in this one.
Overall, the best player on the Saints this season has been Alvin Kamara. He has rushed for a solid 431 yards and four touchdowns on 87 carries, but he has been even more instrumental in the passing game.
Thus far, he has 55 receptions for 556 yards and three scores. Look for Brees to rely on him a lot in this one as well.
Bucs Can Create Separation With Win
While the Saints can overtake first place, the Buccaneers are hoping to create a little more space between them and second place in the division. To do so, they will rely on a stout defense and the ageless Tom Brady under center.
This season, Brady has thrown for 2,189 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. His best receiver has been Mike Evans, who has 30 receptions, 373 yards, and seven touchdowns.
Evans won’t be Brady’s only weapon Sunday night, though. Chris Godwin (25 receptions, 279 yards, two touchdowns) is expected to return from injury, and the Bucs will welcome Antonio Brown to the field for the first time this season.
Evans, Godwin, and Brown have the potential to be the best receiving trio in the entire league.
Defensively, the Bucs are led by Devin White (45 tackles), Jason Pierre-Paul (6.5 sacks), and Carlton Davis (4 interceptions).
Bucs Win And Cover
To date, the Buccaneers have been a perfect 3-0 at home, and I don’t see that changing in this one. While the Saints have an offense that can give the Bucs’ defense fits, I like the Buccaneers on both sides of the ball here.
Their offense is already solid, and the addition of Brown and Godwin’s return makes them even more lethal. More importantly, the Buccaneers’ defense has been especially solid this year. I like the Buccaneers to not only win this one but to cover the 4.5 points as well.