In a fierce NFC South divisional matchup, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints head to Tampa Bay to battle Tom Brady the Bucs on Sunday Night Football. Saints superstar running back Alvin Kamara goes up against the top run defense in the NFL on SNF, which allows only 70.4 yards per game on the ground.
The Saints won their first meeting against the Bucs in Week 1. Since then, the Bucs are 6-1 and emerged as one of the top contenders for the Super Bowl.
Even though the sports media machine hyped up the Tom Brady/Bucs bandwagon, the Saints are still the big dog on the block until they get beat down. As far as they’re concerned, the AFC South crown runs through New Orleans.
If the Saints defeat the Bucs on Sunday Night Football, they’ll sweep the season series and secure a huge tiebreaker advantage if they end the season with an identical record.
|SNF: New Orleans Saints (5-2) at Tampa Bay Bucs (6-2)|
- Kick-off: 5:20 PM PT
- Point Spread: TB -4.5
- Total: 50.05 o/u
- Money Line: NO +195 / TB -220
The SNF line opened with Tampa as a six-point favorite, but early money poured in on New Orleans.
According to an update by DraftKings, the 6-2 Bucs are -200 odds to win the NFC South, while the Saints are -140 odds to win the division once again
The Bucs saw their Super Bowl odds bump after winning six out of their last seven games. According to the Westgate Super Book in Las Vegas, the Bucs are +650 odds to win the Super Bowl, while the Saints are +1500 odds to win the championship.
41 Dat: Kamara Dual Threat
The Saints won the first game 34-23 in New Orleans to kick off the season. Brees stuck to short dink and dump passes to rack up 160 yards and two touchdowns. Alvina Karama was held to only 16 yards, but he still scored a rushing touchdown. He did most of his damage on screen passes from Brees. Kamara caught five passes for 51 yards and another touchdown reception.
Overall, the versatile Kamara has accounted for seven touchdowns and 987 total yards from scrimmage this season. He’s racked up more receiving yards than rushing yards, averaging 141 combined yards per game.
“He’s been a bit of a human highlight reel so far this season,” said Drew Brees.
Kamara’s 55 receptions are the most from a running back in NFL history through seven games. he eclipsed the record set by Matt Forte in 2014 with 52.
“I’m just playing, just out there having fun,” said Kamara. “Trying to get wins.”
Brees will most likely play on Sunday Night Football, even though he’s been nursing an injury on his throwing shoulder.
All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 1, and has been battling a hamstring issue since then. The Saints hope he can be ready to roll for SNF.
The Saints are 2-5 ATS this season, but the over hit 5-1-1 for them.
AB First Game, TB Top D
In Week 1, Brady threw two touchdowns and the Saints picked him off twice in the loss. Since then, he’s tossed 18 touchdowns and only two more picks.
Brady will have WR Antonio Brown in the lineup for his first game with the Bucs on Sunday Night Football. If AB can keep his head on straight, then the Bucs added much-needed depth at wide receiver with injuries to Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (broken finger).
“He’ll have his role,” said Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians. “It could be 10 plays, it could be 35 plays. I wouldn’t anticipate 60 plays, but we’ll just see how it goes.”
While Brady, AB, and the offense garner the majority of attention, the Bucs are really propelled by the top defense in the league. Thanks to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Bucs have the #1 ranked defense in terms of DVOA.
The Bucs allow 299.5 yards per game, or third-best in the NFL. Scoring wise, the Bucs are #7, allowing 20.6 points per game.
Tampa’s stifling run defense is what defines the team. They stonewall opposing rushing attacks and allow just 70.4 yards per game on the ground. Their big test comes with a rematch against the Saints and how they use Kamara on Sunday Night Football. Will they be able to thwart the Brees/Kamara screen game?