The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two chances to clinch the NFC South, and the first comes Sunday (12/31/23) against the Saints. Let’s take a look at Saints vs. Buccaneers odds and predictions, with Buccaneers -2.5 as our best bet.
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prediction
Todd Bowles seems to know how to get the best of the Saints. His defense (both as a coordinator and a head coach) has allowed an average of 11 points per game over the Bucs’ last four meetings with New Orleans, and Derek Carr’s impressive garbage time display against the Rams probably shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the Saints’ offense is ready to break through.
As long as Baker Mayfield and the passing game are somewhat as productive as they have been these last handful of games, this is a game Tampa should be able to win by a field goal or more. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are playing some of their best football as their connections with Mayfield improve, and the emergence of Rachaad White adds a new element that could take advantage of the Saints’ defense.
New Orleans is 1-5 against teams with a .500 record or better this season, and the Saints haven’t won a road game since October. With the way the Buccaneers have been trending, this will be an uphill battle for Dennis Allen’s group and Tampa should be in line to clinch.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints prediction: Buccaneers -2.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints Best Odds
The Buccaneers enter as 2.5-point home favorites, sitting at -142 on the moneyline. The over/under is 42.5 points.
Is this line underestimating the Buccaneers a bit after a four-game win streak? The Saints’ defense has been a challenge for some of the NFL’s weaker offenses, but the Rams proved it can be beaten with a red-hot offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints Key Injuries
Saints WR Chris Olave and DE Cameron Jordan are both dealing with ankle injuries but played in Week 16. OT Ryan Ramczyk (knee) missed Week 16 and is still uncertain for Sunday’s game.
For the Buccaneers, CB Carlton Davis is still recovering from a concussion while OLB Shaquil Barrett (groin) didn’t practice Wednesday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints Key Matchups
Here are some of the key matchups that could decide Buccaneers vs. Saints.
Rachaad White vs. New Orleans Saints Run Defense
Baker Mayfield has been tremendous over the last handful of weeks, but the emergence of the Buccaneers’ running game has been a huge factor in the offense’s success.
Rachaad White averaged 4.6 yards per attempt over his previous four games entering the win over Jacksonville, but he took a major step back against the Jaguars with just 39 rushing yards on 20 carries. If White can get back into a rhythm against the Saints, it will be very tough for New Orleans’ defense to put the team in position to win.
The Saints are averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season, well below average, and New Orleans was just shredded by Kyren Williams last week. White has been seeing heavy workloads of late, so Demario Davis and the Saints’ run defense simply can’t afford to let him take control of the game considering their own offense likely won’t be able to keep up.
Chris Olave vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Secondary
Chris Olave remains hobbled by an ankle injury as of the middle of this week, but he showed what kind of impact he can have even at less than 100 percent against the Rams. Olave hauled in nine catches for 123 yards, and he has 90+ yards in each of his last four full games (exited with an injury vs. Carolina). Derek Carr had a tough time connecting with the talented second-year receiver early in the season, but the Saints’ passing game has a dangerous element when Carr is able to feed Olave.
The Buccaneers’ pass defense is coming off a strong week against Jacksonville, but there have been times it’s been a liability this season – most notably against the Texans and Falcons over the last two months. Whether Carr can settle in early and take advantage of that by going to his top weapon will be critical to the Saints’ chances.