NFL Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
NCAA Football Betting Favorite: Saints -9
The Saints have had fans of the NFL scratching their head the last couple weeks. New Orleans put an epic 62-7 beating on the Indianapolis Colts two weeks, but lost to previous winless Saint Louis last weekend. How could a team be so dominant one week and then lose to a cellar dweller the next week? The NFL is so popular because you really don’t know what will happen from one week to another. Tampa Bay is quietly 4-3 and just half game behind the Saints in the NFC South. This is a key divisional matchup set for Sunday in New Orleans.
Raheem Morris has done a great job with this Tampa Bay Buccaneers team over the last couple years. The team now expects to win, and they are a factor in this division. Josh Freeman gives the team a very talented young quarterback who is capable of big things. Freeman had a breakout season last year, but he has taken a big step backward so far this season. Freeman has thrown 10 interceptions and just seven touchdowns in 2011. He has a quarterback rating of just 73.1. LaGarette Blount was out the last couple weeks with an injury, but he is expected back for this big game.
Tampa Bay’s defense has taken a step back so far this year as well. The Bucs are 31st in the NFL in sacks, which has put a lot of pressure on their secondary. The team has three safeties on the injured reserve right now, so it is no surprise that the Bucs have been suffering some against the pass of late. Gerald McCoy is the main man in the middle of the defensive line, and he is expected back from an injury this week.
Drew Brees and the Saints couldn’t be stopped two weeks ago, but they couldn’t get out of their own way last week. Uncharacteristic mistakes were the downfall of the team last weekend. The Saints haven’t been beaten at home this year, and they look to keep that unblemished home record intact this week. Brees is having another successful season as the team’s signal caller. Brees is completing 71% of his passes, and he already has 2,746 passing yards. Darren Sproles has been a huge pickup for this Saints offense. Sproles is averaging 6.8 yards per carry, and he has racked up 51 receptions as well. The Saints are first in the NFL in passing offense and second in scoring offense.
The Saints defense sits right about in the middle of the pack in all the major defensive categories. This isn’t a group that has to be spectacular for the Saints to be a factor in the playoffs again this year, but they do need to hold their own. This is an opportunistic defense that takes advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses.
The Bucs are 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 road games. Tampa Bay has beaten New Orleans in three of their last four meetings with the Saints. I think the Saints win here, but I’ll take the underdog with more than a touchdown in what I expect to be a close game.
Free NFL Pick: Tampa Bay +9
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