Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(9-6, 9-5-1 ATS)
New Orleans Saints
(11-4, 7-8 ATS)
A pair of potential playoff teams meet up at the Louisiana Superdome in Week 17, as the New Orleans Saints clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This NFL betting battle is one of the most important of the day and is certainly not one that you want to miss.
The Bucs know that they need a win and a lot of help to get into the second season, and this is going to be the first step towards getting to the goal of ten wins to stay alive in the playoff chase. QB Josh Freeman has really taken some major strides in the right direction this year, as he threw for 3,196 yards and 23 TDs against six INTs. He was really the catalyst for this offense that all of a sudden became formidable after being a disgrace in 2009. RB LeGarrette Blount has come out of nowhere as well to rush for 941 yards and six TDs in spite of the fact that he has only played in 12 games and started six. He has made RB Cadillac Williams totally irrelevant, and has given some credence to a running game that has been dreadful really since Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott left town. WR Mike Williams had a fantastic rookie campaign this year, and he is going to make a real case for Offensive Rookie of the Year, though we know he is going to finish, at best, runner up to St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford. Still, for a man that caught 61 passes for 924 yards and ten TDS, there is nothing to be ashamed of.
New Orleans is going to be doing some scoreboard watching in this one, and though it would love to knock the Bucs out of the playoffs, if the Atlanta Falcons are beating up the Carolina Panthers, there is no sense in really trying hard in this game. If Atlanta wins in a game running concurrently, the Saints are going to be locked into the No. 5 seed in the playoffs and will be visiting either the St. Louis Rams or the Seattle Seahawks in Round 1 of the playoffs. However, if the Falcons do slip, a win against the Bucs would give the black and gold the top seed in the NFC, and the road to the Super Bowl would run through the Bayou. The New Orleans defense has really been improved all season long, making this team a very viable option to win the conference even if it does have to win three road games to get there. The Saints are allowing just 305.5 yards and 18.9 points per game this year, and we know that these numbers are in actuality significantly better due to the fact that the offense and the special teams either directly or indirectly gave up a number of scores.
This should be a very tight game for awhile, but we have to remember that Tampa Bay was ultimately clocked by the Saints the first time around when these two teams met at Raymond James Stadium. There are really very few even remotely quality wins for the Bucs this year, and this isn’t suddenly going to change unless the Saints take their foot off the gas pedal in the second half. New Orleans gets the job done and stays on a roll going into the second season.
Pro Football Free Pick: New Orleans Saints -7.5