The New Orleans Saints have arguably their toughest and most important matchup of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8.
The 4-2 Saints will take on the 6-1 Bucs at home, but they’re heading into this NFC South title battle with more than a few disadvantages.
One week after an ugly win against the Seattle Seahawks, the Saints’ offense still has not found its spark. Alvin Kamara carried New Orleans to victory in the running game, but in passing, New Orleans remain one of the worst teams in the league in yardage and attempts.
With Michael Thomas not yet cleared to return, the Saints will be with their usual wide receiver corps in what could be viewed as a Jameis Winston revenge game.
Winston’s former team, however, has been thriving ever since Winston left. Tom Brady continues breaking records at the ripe age of 44, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have been tearing apart opponents’ backfields, and Tampa Bay seems primed to embark on yet another Super Bowl run.
The Bucs just crushed the Chicago Bears in Week 7, and they’ll be looking to do the same against a confused New Orleans team that hasn’t found any semblance of identity in the post-Brees era.
New Orleans are going into this game as 5.0-point home underdogs to the Buccaneers. No surprise there.
Who are the experts picking in the Saints/Buccaneers game?
- Greg Rosenthal (NFL.com) – Buccaneers 27, Saints 23
- Mike Freeman (USA Today) – Buccaneers 37, Saints 25
- Gil Arcia (SB Nation) – Buccaneers 29, Saints 24
- Ben Rolfe (Pro Football Network) – Buccaneers 30, Saints 20
Overwhelmingly, the Bucs are favored. It should be noted that on ESPN, USA Today, and SB Nation, the Bucs are the unanimous winner across the site’s entire panel of writers.
In his explanation of his pick, Greg Rosenthal believes the division matchup would “go down to the wire,” thus the closer 27-23 score line.
Mike Freeman, who predicts the largest win differential, also picked the New York Giants to best the Kansas City Chiefs, which is….improbable. Take his prediction with a grain of salt.
In any case, the consensus is clear. Most experts believe Tampa Bay will come out on top, and for good reason.
If, by some witchy magic on Hallows Eve, Jameis Winston can play a mistake-free Mahomes-level game against the Bucs (well, when Mahomes was in his prime, anyway), the Saints might have a tiny shot at upsetting the favorites.
Sean Payton needs to loosen his leash on the Florida State product, and the Saints’ D have to play an absolutely perfect game. A New Orleans win may not be worth betting on this week, but anything can happen.