Featured in this article:
  • The Saints are just 2-5 against the spread this season
  • Buccaneers lost season opener at New Orleans, 34-23
  • Michael Thomas has missed time due to injury, BYE, suspension and now another injury.

The Saints are playing with fire. Close games, or as Drew Brees refers to them “battled tested,” are quickly becoming a weekly occurrence. As is often the case, New Orleans blew a 10-point, fourth quarter lead and needed overtime to beat an offensively inept Bears team. The 26-23 OT win improved the Saints record to 5-2 straight up, but after failing to cover the -5.5, Sean Payton’s squad is now just 2-5 against the spread this season.

On a Monday night where the Buccaneers offense was limited, Tampa Bay’s defense forced two Daniel Jones turnovers, which Tom Brady and Co. converted into 10 points. After leading for much of the contest, the Giants came up a two-point conversion shy of tying the game in the final seconds as the Buccs escaped MetLife with a 25-23 victory to improve to 6-2 straight up and fall to 4-4 against the spread.

Week 9: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Game Info
Date: November 8, 2020, 8:20 p.m. ET
Stadium: Raymond James Stadium
TV Coverage: NBC
Opening Odds: Saints -1 | O/U 56
How to Bet: Best Online Sportsbook Reviews

Line Movement

New Orleans initially opened as 1-point road favorites, but the spread has since flipped to Buccaneers -4. The Saints moneyline opened at +188, but is now around +170. The point total opened at 56, but dipped down to 54.5.

The Saints won the first meeting this season back in Week 1, 34-23. Both teams combined for 15 penalties for more than 200 yards lost. It was a sloppy performance following an abridged training camp with no preseason games. Tom Brady’s Buccaneers debut was soured by two interceptions the Saints converted into 14 points.

Per the norm this season, Drew Brees and the offense’s effort was missing that Saints’ spark we’ve grown accustomed to the past decade. The 41-year-old quarterback completed 18-of-30 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

New Orleans News and Notes

Upon scanning the Bears game recap, the Saints’ inability to separate themselves from NFC Super Bowl contenders is evident. New Orleans has now won three consecutive games by just three points and their only double-digit win was over Tampa Bay back in Week 1. They’ve outscored opponents 206-197.

Although their most-recent effort at Chicago was one to forget, this stat is worthy of highlighting. New Orleans is 10-10 straight up in their last 20 games as a road underdog. However, they’re 13-6-1 against the spread with three consecutive covers during that stretch. The difference in most of those contests: Michael Thomas was active.

The Pro Bowl receiver has been inactive this season due to a high ankle sprain, team-initiated suspension (for practice fight) and now a hamstring injury. Trade whispers are swirling, but I can’t imagine Brees signing off on that with the state of the offense on the cusp of regressing even farther. Regression might not be the best word to describe the 2020 edition of the Saints, but they are definitely out of sync with so much of the offense running through Alvin Kamara. Kamara’s 987 total yards accounts for more than 36 percent of the Saints total offense this year.

Tampa Bay News and Notes

Antonio Brown is back in the NFL. Again. The Buccaneers added the controversial receiver to their loaded corps and AB84 will make his first appearance on an NFL field since September 2019 this Sunday against the Saints. The move to add Brown became a priority after Chris Godwin underwent surgery on his finger. According to reports, there’s a 50-50 chance Godwin plays against the Saints, but with the addition of AB, it’s hard to imagine they rush Godwin back.

Since Tom Brady tossed two interceptions in the season-opening loss to the Saints, the veteran quarterback has passed for 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions over the past 7 games, in which, the Buccaneers are 6-1. Tampa Bay has also converted more than 77% of their red zone trips into touchdowns – third-best in the NFL.

Defensively, the Bucs rank second in yards allowed per play as they’ve allowed just 4.8 yards per pop. With Kamara basically the only threat when Thomas is inactive, Tampa Bay’s linebackers can spy the running back and let the rest of New Orleans offense try to beat them. It’s a tall task to ask of Drew Brees who has enjoyed more ample targets throughout his career. It’s also why the Saints may be the most fragile 5-2 team in the NFL much like the Packers were a season ago.

Betting Pick: Buccaneers -4

The Saints offense is lost without Michael Thomas active. If he’s inactive and/or traded, Buccaneers are the better team, playing at home.

Check out our expert NFL betting guide if you want to learn more about How to Bet on Week 9 of the NFL or head right to our favorite online sportsbook review page and find the right site for you!

Ryan Fowler

Ryan has covered sports on every media platform over the past 17+ years. The first seven years of his professional career were spent as a sports anchor and reporter at various local television stations, while he picked up side gigs as a freelance sports columnist and recurring radio guest before he decided to jump to the web. As content manager of sports simulation website WhatIfSports.com and senior editor of FOXSports.com's fantasy baseball and football coverage for the better part of this decade, Ryan embraces advanced metrics, trends, and outside-the-box angles to find his edge. You can follow him on Twitter @FreelanceFowler.

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