TB jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead and then had to hold off Washington in their 31-23 victory. TB out gained Washington 7.0yppl to 5.4yppl, out rushed Washington 4.9ypr to 3.7ypr and out passed Washington 8.5yps to 6.3yps.
The Bears used a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter and a meaningless final two minute drive touchdown to make the final 21-9 but the game was really never that close even. NO out gained Chicago just 5.1yppl to 4.9yppl but NO ran the ball 16 more times in the game. NO out rushed Chicago 3.5ypr to 2.5ypr and out passed Chicago 6.6yps to 6.4yps. The Saints controlled the clock for almost 18 more minutes in the game. Chicago’s only points came on a field goal following a turnover when they received the ball at the NO 24 yard line and the late meaningless touchdown on the last play of the game.
TB averages 7.1yps against teams allowing 6.4yps while NO is allowing just 5.8yps against teams averaging 6.6yps. The Saints average 7.3yps against teams allowing 6.5yps while TB allows 5.9yps against teams averaging 6.5yps. For TB Mike Evans averages 1.87 yards per route run, Chris Godwin is at 1.94 yards per route run and Antonio Brown averages 2.05 yards per route run. The Saints only CB in the top 50 is Chauncey Gardner-Johnson who allows 1.03 yards per snap but he is outside the top 50 if they put him in slot coverage. Michael Thomas averages 2.13 yards per route run and Emmanuel Sanders averages 1.84 yards per route run. Deonte Harris is now also in the top 50 averaging 1.98 yards per route run. Jamel Dean allows just 0.76 yards per snap for TB but either Carlton Davis (1.40) or Sean Murphy-Bunting (1.39) are both bottom 50 in the league in defending yards per snap. Ross Cockrell has been good in the slot at 0.66 yards per snap.
I don’t have any situations on this game. My adjusted numbers for match up purposes favor NO by 6.3 points and project 55.9 points.
Going back to 2015 the Saints have been a home favorite of four or less points six times against teams who ended up being playoff teams that year. In other words the Saints were a slightly better team against another good team and favored at home. They are just 2-4 ats in those games with all six games having gone over the total with an average of 70.5 points being scored and a median of 67 points.
The Saints were known to have bad defenses for many years but since 2017 their points allowed during the regular season have ranged from 326 in 2017 to as high as 353 (337 in 2020). So, they have been pretty consistent on points allowed each of the last four years. When the Saints have been a home favorite against a quality offense they are 11-4 to the over with an average score of 34-29 in favor of NO. In other words the last four years they have had similar defenses (this year does appear to be better than those years) but when they have faced a better than average offense the games have tended to be higher scoring.
Since Arians arrived in TB (2019) the Bucs have been a road dog seven times. They are 6-1 to the over in those games, including the last six games. That includes a 34-23 defeat here to the Saints back in week one. These two have totaled 88, 55 and 57 points here each of the last three years.
The Bucs defense is a good defense but plays to higher scoring games because they stop the run but aren’t as good against the pass which allows for bigger plays. If they aren’t getting sacks in games they give up big plays and points. They have played seven games this year where they generated two sacks or less. In those games they allowed 27 or more points in six of those seven games (23 last week vs Wash was the only game less than 27 points) and an average of 30 points per game. They produced exactly one sack in each game against NO this year and allowed 34 & 38 points. I realize there were some defensive scores in there as well but they are giving up points when they can’t get sacks. Drew Brees hasn’t been sacked more than two times in a game this year. If TB isn’t getting to Brees NO will score plenty of points. When TB has not generated more than two sacks in a game they are allowing 5.9yppl against teams averaging 5.6yppl and 7.3yps against teams averaging 6.5yps. When they generate three or more sacks they allow 1.0yppl less than their opponents are averaging and 1.5yps less than their opponents are averaging.
The Bucs struggled in the two games against NO earlier this year but they were missing LG Ali Marpet in the second game (38-3 loss) and Antonio Brown wasn’t on the team for the first game and it was his first game back in week nine so he wasn’t completely acclimated with the offense yet. Brown is now a big part of the offense and the Bucs are spreading teams out with plenty of good skill position players, forcing teams to defend 4-5 receivers at times. If they can protect Brady in those situations, like they did last week against Washington, they will find holes in the defense and move the ball. The best play in this game, in my opinion, is the team total we played but the over in the game is also a good bet as well. NEW ORLEANS 31 TAMPA BAY 27