After things got heated between these two teams in Week 2, New Orleans travels to Tampa to exact revenge on the Bucs. With a healthier offense this time, our NFL picks anticipate plenty of opportunities for Ryan Succop.
Regardless of the teams’ win-loss records or the state of the NFC South, Monday Night Football between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a must-see game that will define the division and the path to the playoffs.
According to NFL odds, Tampa Bay appears to be the class of the NFC South, but sharp action isn’t buying into the Bucs, at least not in this primetime matchup. Pro bettors quickly grabbed the points with New Orleans and significantly reduced the spread, making this one of the more dramatic line moves of Week 13.
I examine the point spread and Over/Under total for Monday Night Football and provide my best NFL betting picks and predictions for the Saints vs. Buccaneers game on December 5.
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Saints vs Buccaneers best odds
Picks and predictions for Saints vs. Buccaneers
The opening spread may have predicted a wider finish to Monday Night Football, but betting markets believe this divisional showdown will be much closer than anticipated.
Much of that opinion stems from the Buccaneers’ offensive ineptitude, as Tampa Bay ranks 27th in points per game despite ranking Top 10 in Passing DVOA at Football Outsiders. The Buccaneers rank 22nd in Red Zone DVOA, scoring on only half of their attempts inside their opponent’s 20-yard line.
This has resulted in plenty of field goal attempts for Tampa Bay kicker Ryan Succop, who has made 23 of his 26 field goal attempts this season, tying him for fourth in the league. Succop hasn’t seen as much action in the last two games, but New Orleans will be a more difficult test for this Bucs offense.
Since the GOAT moved to Tampa in 2020, the Saints have done an excellent job of slowing down Tom Brady and company, and they are hoping to have shutdown CB Marshon Lattimore back in action for Week 13. In Week 2, the Buccaneers defeated the Saints 20-10, with Succop scoring eight of those points.
Tampa Bay’s offense is in much better shape than it was in September, thanks to a healthier receiving corps and the fact that this game is being played at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs offense benefits from home field advantage, particularly the pass game, which could put Tampa inside field goal range more frequently on Monday night. They’ve also scored more points at home, with Succop going perfect on extra points this season (15-for-15).
The Saints defense hasn’t been as strong as in previous seasons, but it is very familiar with the Tampa Bay playbook. New Orleans, which forced the Buccaneers to go 5-for-17 on third downs in Week 2, is ranked 12th in third down conversion defence and has the third lowest red zone touchdown rate (47.06%).
This equates to 2.5 average field goal attempts per game from NOLA’s opponents this season, which ranks third in the NFL, and rival kickers have scored seven, eight, and eight points in the last three games.
The weather forecast for Monday night calls for clear skies and little to no wind when the game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET.
Succop’s kicking point total is set at 7.5, and he’s surpassed that total in three of his last four home games. On Monday, I expect the Bucs to move the ball better, settle for a few field goals, and add a couple of extra points to Succop’s box score.
Ryan Succop kicking points over 7.5 is my best bet (-120)
Analysis of the Saints vs. Buccaneers spread
Before the events of Week 12, the lookahead line had this spread set at Tampa Bay -6.5. However, following the Buccaneers’ collapse against Cleveland and the Saints’ shutout in San Francisco, this spread was officially opened at Tampa Bay -6 on Sunday night and quickly saw money on the underdog.
With this being a tight divisional matchup between two teams that are very familiar with each other, pro bettors felt the spread gave the Buccaneers far too much credit than their current form warranted. Since Brady arrived in Tampa, New Orleans has been a tough opponent for him, going 4-1 straight up and against the spread in the regular season the last three years.
This consensus and respected action reduced the Tampa Bay -6 spread to as low as -3.5 by Tuesday morning. There was some buyback on the Buccaneers, which brought the line back up to -4.5, but more money on the underdog brought it back down to -3.5.
As of Sunday morning, the industry consensus was Buccaneers -4 — a very important spread and a secondary key number that has become increasingly important over the last four or five seasons.
Despite their collapse at Cleveland last weekend, Tampa Bay is the clear favorite. The Buccaneers’ offense has plenty of playmakers who are finally getting healthy, but the offensive line is still dealing with injuries that have plagued them since the summer.
Because of a quarterback shortage, New Orleans’ offense has been terribly disjointed all season. Andy Dalton is the starting quarterback for Week 13, leading an offense that has scored 13, 10, and zero points in three of its last four games. Since Week 9, this team has ranked 28th in EPA per play, with the passing game being its biggest blemish (24th in DVOA at Football Outsiders).
DraftKings reported 64% of the bet count on the home favorite heading into the weekend, but 54% on the Saints. As of Sunday morning, the Covers Consensus was 54% on Tampa Bay.
In 2022, neither team has been a good bet, with NOLA going 4-8 ATS and the Bucs going 3-7-1 ATS entering Week 13.
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