Point spread: New Orleans -4.5
The New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers square-off this Sunday afternoon in a huge early season battle for the lead in the NFC South. Kick-off from Raymond James Stadium is slated for 1 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast regionally on FOX.
New Orleans is right on track for a run at the NFC title with a 4-1 start straight-up (3-2 against the spread). Last Sunday, it pulled-out a dramatic 30-27 victory over Carolina in the closing minutes of the game as a 6.5-point road favorite. The total went ‘over’ the ‘over’ the 51-point line and has now gone ‘over’ in three of its five games this year.
The Saints will still go as far as quarterback Drew Brees can take them, but the addition of rookie running back Mark Ingram and free-agent back Darren Sproles have combined to give the team the running game that was lacking all season. Brees has already thrown for 1,769 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Ingram and Sproles have combined for 401 yards on the ground.
Tampa Bay appeared to be back on track after an opening day loss to Detroit with three straight wins, but last Sunday’s 48-3 drubbing at the hands of San Francisco as a 2.5-point road underdog was a major setback for the team. The Buccaneers are now 3-2 SU (2-3 ATS) on the year and a game behind New Orleans in the division. The total has gone ‘over’ in four of their five games so far.
Consistency on the offensive side of the ball continues to plague this team as it is ranked 20th in the league overall and 28th in scoring with an average of 17.4 points a game. The defense has had its share of breakdowns as well and is ranked 23rd overall and 22nd in points allowed.
New Orleans is 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games and 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games against the NFC South. The total has stayed ‘under’ in 10 of its last 12 divisional games.
Tampa Bay is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games as an underdog and 4-1 ATS in its last five games against the NFC South. The total has stayed ‘under’ in nine of its last 12 games played in the division.
Head-to-head, the road team is 13-3 ATS in the last 16 meetings and the total has stayed ‘under’ in the last five meetings.
The Saints are too good of a team to blow an opportunity to put some early distance between themselves and their nearest competitor for the NFC South crown. Take New Orleans to win and cover in a game that stays ‘under’ the total.
The Free NFL Pick: New Orleans 24 Tampa Bay 16
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.