Fathers’ Time: Brees’ Saints slight favorites over Brady’s Buccaneers in divisional playoffs

Featured in this article:

  • New Orleans is 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games.
  • Tampa Bay has won six consecutive road games.
  • The point total has gone UNDER in five consecutive Saints games played in January.

Tampa Bay converted just ONE of their five red zone trips and still, somehow, Tom Brady passed for nearly 400 yards, two touchdowns with no interceptions as the Buccaneers held off the Football Team, 31-23. Washington’s defense and play of Taylor Heinicke allowed the football team to cover the +10 to drop Tampa Bay’s ATS record to 9-8.

For years, the Saints offense and Drew Brees were dripping in accolades and admiration. New Orleans defense is now the unit opponents fear. The Saints “D” allowed the Bears to convert just one third down all game and New Orleans dominated time of possession nearly 2-to-1. Sean Payton’s 21-9 wild card victory wasn’t flashy, but covered the spread to improve their season ATS record to 10-6-1.

Divisional Playoffs: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints Game Info
Date: January 17, 2020, 6:40 p.m. ET
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
TV Coverage: FOX
Opening Odds: Saints -5.5 | O/U 49
How to Bet: Best Online Sportsbook Reviews

Line Movement

New Orleans opened as 5.5-point home favorites, but that has since peeled back to Saints -3 at most online sportsbooks we track as some money likely came in on Brady to beat Brees in his third attempt. The Buccaneers moneyline opened at +155, while the point total opened at 49 before a notable bump up to 52.

New Orleans and Tampa Bay combined for 57 points in their first meeting, but just 41 in their second as the Buccaneers laid a big fat Sunday night football egg.

The Saints won the season opener over the Buccaneers, 34-23. New Orleans picked Brady off twice in that contest that came after an abridged training camp and no preseason games. It was truly difficult to gauge the quality of ANY team back in Week 1.

New Orleans traveled to Tampa in Week 9 and punched the Buccaneers in the jaw. The Saints scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives as Tom Brady and the Buccs offense waived the white flag early with 194 total yards and just three points.

Buccaneers News and Notes

Five things to know:

  • The Buccaneers are averaging 34.1 points per game since losing to the Saints in Week 9.
  • Antonio Brown has been relatively quiet since joining Tampa Bay, but his play on the field continues to speak for him. He caught 45 balls in eight games for nearly 500 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season. Brown only caught two passes in the playoff win over Washington, but did find the end zone on a 36-yard strike from Brady.
  • Starting running back Ronald Jones II was active against the Football Team, but did not record a carry as he’s been banged up with a quad injury. This opened the door for Leonard Fournette to post his second-best game in a Buccaneers jersey and the most touches (24) in a game this season. Leo finished with 93 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown and four receptions for 39 yards. It’s a new wrinkle within the Buccs offense that could cause the Saints some fits.
  • Tampa Bay’s rush defense ranks tops in the league at 80.9 ground yards allowed per game, but part of the reason is because their secondary ranks 21st against the pass. The Buccaneers allow the 9th-most passing first downs per game, 13.5. So, while we have grown accustomed to Alvin Kamara running between the tackles, this matchup favors Brees to air things out …one more time?
  • The Buccaneers have just three sacks over their past two games. Give Brees time in the pocket and you’ll get burned.

Saints News and Notes

Five things to know:

    • New Orleans defense ranks second in offensive plays allowed, third against the rush, third in points allowed per game, fourth in yards allowed per play and sixth against the pass AND they’re 2-0 against Brady and cuffed him up in the second meeting.
    • Michael Thomas played in just seven of the Saints regular season games, but returned to face the Bears where he posted a stat line of five receptions on seven targets with a touchdown. He was one of TEN players with at least one reception via Brees last Sunday.
    • The Saints average nearly three sacks per game and while Tom Brady was sacked just 21 times in 16 games behind a solid o-line, the Buccaneers will be without starting guard Alex Cappa who broke his ankle in the win over Washington. Plus, New Orleans is waiting to see if the team-leader in sacks Trey Hendrickson back from a neck injury. He did NOT play in the win over the Bears. Hendrickson finished with 13.5 sacks during the regular season.
    • The point total has gone UNDER in five consecutive Saints games played in January.
    • New Orleans is just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 playoff games as a home favorite. They’ve won seven of the 12 straight up.

Game Pick: Saints -3

Can New Orleans go 3-0 against the Buccaneers this season? After dissecting the Tampa Bay-Washington box score, noting the lingering issues the Buccaneers continue to have on defense, the fact Taylor Heinecke passed for 300+ yards and that it was a one-score game, late, leads me to believe the Saints efficient offense combined with an elite pass rush keeps Brady uncomfortable Sunday night.

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