I’d argue this is annually the best weekend of football – it’s time for the divisional round! Four games, eight great teams, let’s get started. I present my Bucs at Saints Betting Preview.
Additional game previews, props and picks will be shared throughout the week on Twitter, so make sure you’re following, @griffybets. Let’s get to it!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, 6:40 PM, FOX
Line: Saints -3
#5 Tampa Bay (12-5 overall), (9-8 ATS)
#2 New Orleans (13-4 overall), (10-7 ATS)
Tampa Bay Passing Offense
Receiving grade (7) vs. Saints Pass Coverage grade (18)
Passing DVOA (5) vs. Saints Pass Defense DVOA (3)
Net difference: +9
Tampa Bay Rushing Offense
Running grade (12) vs. Saints Rush Defense grade (1)
Rushing DVOA (10) vs. Saints Rush Defense DVOA (2)
Net difference: -19
New Orleans Passing Offense
Receiving grade (9) vs. Bucs Pass coverage grade (6)
Passing DVOA (12) vs. Bucs Pass Defense DVOA (5)
Net difference: -10
New Orleans Rushing Offense
Running grade (5) vs. Bucs Rush defense grade (10)
Rushing DVOA (1) vs. Bucs Rush Defense DVOA (1)
Net difference: +5
Bucs at Saints Betting Preview: Thoughts on the Game
This game has the intrigue, storyline and talent to cap off Divisional Round weekend in style.
It’s hard to ignore the Saints two wins over Tampa, with a combined score of 72-26. Can a team really beat Tom Brady three times in one year?
Their last meeting was back in Week 9, and much has changed – the Bucs are rolling on both sides of the ball, specifically their passing game.
It’s their passing game that holds the biggest advantage in this one. What started out very ‘Dream Team’-esque has turned into a successful infusion of veteran talent on offense.
Mike Evans is a stud, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski round out the group nicely, and the Bucs sport an above-average offensive line. Put it all together and Tom Brady has himself all the workings of a strong offense.
The numbers back it up, scoring over 30 points per game and averaging nearly 400 yards of offense.
For New Orleans: the strength of the team is in their defense and their running game. Neither set the Saints up in an advantageous position on Sunday. The Bucs rush defense is number one in the league, according to DVOA, and the Tampa offense is a top-five unit.
Drew Brees is no doubt at the end of a Hall of Fame career, and even with stars Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, the arrow points to the Bucs for me.
I haven’t seen many on Twitter banging the table for New Orleans – which makes me nervous here, but I’m rolling with Tampa Bay.
Game pick: Bucs +3
Player Props to Target: Bucs
I went for this last week to no avail, and I’m back again. Give me Gronk.
Prop pick: Gronkowski TD (+200)
Gronk is second among Tampa Bay pass-catchers in redzone looks, going against a Saints defense that’s allowed ten touchdowns to tight ends this year.
In a game I expect to be opportunistic for the Tampa passing game, lock me in on the Brady-Gronk connection.
Elsewhere, the prop plays for this offense remain in the passing game.
For those following me the last few weeks, you know how much I value play time and targets, and Mike Evans leads this team in both – though Chris Godwin is emerging as the 1B option.
Both have my attention this weekend. Evans over/under is set at 63.5 yards, while Godwin is actually higher, at 67.5.
Prop pick: Mike Evans OVER 63.5 receiving yards
Player Props to Target: Saints
On paper, there is a slight advantage for the New Orleans run game. Kamara’s line is set at 60.5 rushing yards and 43.5 receiving yards. I’d prefer the rushing line for a guy averaging 127 yards in his last two.
I should note, the Bucs run defense is allowing an astoundingly low 58.6 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs.
I’m a bit more drawn to the Saints tight ends, in particular, Jared Cook.
In two games against Tampa, the Saints tight ends averaged six catches and 81.5 yards per game.
Cook has received an average of five targets per game in his last six, and has exceeded this projected line in three straight.
Prop pick: Jared Cook OVER 31.5 receiving yards
That will do it for this Divisional Round preview. Make sure you’re following on Twitter, @griffybets, for my latest. Thanks for reading, and good luck this weekend!