NFL Week 15 Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, December 16, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
Opening Line: New Orleans -3 (-125)
Current Line: New Orleans -3 1/2
Opening Total: 54
Current Total: 53 1/2
Opening Money Line: Saints -195 / Buccaneers +165
Current Money Line: Saints -195 / Buccaneers +165
The 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 5-8 New Orleans Saints have both lost 3 straight games and almost fallen out of the NFC playoff race. Tampa Bay is coached by Greg Schiano and new Orleans is led by interim coach Joe Vitt The two teams meet Sunday in what amounts to an elimination game, if they even realistically have a shot. New Orleans has to win out and get lots of help from the 7 teams ahead of them. Tampa Bay has a slightly better shot but it would still take a lot for them to make the playoffs.
The Buccaneers and Saints played October 21 in Tampa Bay. New Orleans won that game 35-28, their second straight win over the Buccaneers. In that game Tampa bay Bay took an early 21-7 lead. New Orleans came back to take a 35-28 lead. The Buccaneers appeared to score the potential game tying touchdown on the last play of the game. However, Tampa receiver Mike Williams was pushed out of bounds before he made the catch and it was called illegal touching by the referees. New Orleans held on for the win.
As mentioned, the Buccaneers have lost 3 straight games. The three losses were a by a total of 11 points. In fact Tampa Bay has 7 losses all by 8 points or less. Last week, the Buccaneers lost on the last play of the game 23-21 to the Philadelphia Eagles on a Jeremy Maclin touchdown catch from quarterback Nick Foles. The Eagles had lost 8 straight games before that. It was the fourth time this season Tampa Bay lost a game when they held a fourth quarter lead. It was the first time this season Tampa Bay had lost when rushing for over 130 yards. The Buccs are 9-3-1 ATS and the total is 9-4 this season.
Tampa Bay is averaging 356.8 yards per game on offense, including 237.9 passing yards and 118.9 rushing yards. The Buccaneers are outscoring teams 27-24 this season. Tampa Bay is #5 in scoring in the league. The Buccaneers are +12 in turnovers. Tampa Bay has forced 24 sacks and allowed 18. The Buccaneers are 60/163 on third and fourth down conversions. Tampa Bay is giving up 389.8 yards per game on defense, including 311.6 passing yards and 78.2 rushing yards. The Buccs are last in passing defense but first in rushing defense. Tampa Bay has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.
Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman has completed 54.7% of his passes for 3,192 yards with 25 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 32 carries for 112 yards. He has been sacked 19 times this season. Rookie running back Doug Martin has 264 carries, 1,234 yards, and 10 touchdowns, along with 35 catches, 378 yards and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount will also get a few carries.
Receiver Vincent Jackson has 56 catches, 1,145 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Mike Williams has 46 catches, 736 yards and 7 touchdowns. Tight end Dallas Clark has 35 catches, 360 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tiquan Underwood has 22 catches, 334 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nine Buccaneers defensive players are on the injury list right now including 4 defensive backs.
New Orleans has also lost 3 games in a row, but all by double digits. The Saints were crushed last week at the New York Giants 52-27. Really though the big story in New Orleans this week was former commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturning all player suspensions in the so called “Bounty-Gate” scandal. Still the Saints’ season was irreparably damaged by the suspensions to coach Sean Payton and others in the organization. The Saints are 6-7 ATS and the total is 8-5 this season.
The Saints are averaging 394.2 yards per game on offense, including 298.1 passing yards and 96.1 rushing yards. New Orleans is being outscored 29-27 this season. The Saints are in the top 6 in the league in total offense, passing, and scoring, but 26th in rushing. The Saints are -4 in turnovers. New Orleans has allowed 23 sacks and forced 25. The Saints are 78/177 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, the Saints are allowing 436.9 yards per game, including 284.5 passing yards and 152.4 rushing yards. The Saints are 30th or worse in all defensive categories, including dead last in total defense and against the rush. The Saints have four defensive/special teams touchdowns.
Brees has completed 61.7% of his passes for 4,028 yards with 32 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He has been sacked 23 times but has a rushing touchdown. Brees has struggled the last three games with 9 interceptions. In the prior 8 games, he had only thrown 5 interceptions total. He had thrown a touchdown pass in an NFL record 54 straight games before the Atlanta loss, but that streak ended against the Falcons two weeks ago.
Running back Pierre Thomas has 99 carries, 444 yards, and a touchdown, along with 29 catches for 267 yards. Mark Ingram has 111 carries, 420 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 5 catches for 22 yards. Chris Ivory has 36 carries, 195 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with a hamstring injury after missing the Giants’ game. Darren Sproles returned from a broken hand three weeks ago. He has 31 carries for 173 yards and a touchdown along with 55 carries, 463 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also returns kicks and punts, and averages 29 yards per kick return and 8 yards per punt return.
Receiver Marques Colston has 65 catches, 889 yards and 8 touchdowns. Lance Moore has 53 catches, 848 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Jimmy Graham has 64 catches, 710 yards and 8 touchdowns. Devery Henderson has 21 catches, 300 yards and a touchdown. Three offensive tackles and three defensive players are questionable or out Sunday.
Tampa Bay is 5-0 ATS after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 5-1-1 overall, 16-5 on fieldturf, 19-7-1 in road games, 5-2 after a straight up loss, 8-20-2 after allowing 350 yards or more, 2-5-1 against NFC South teams, and 1-5 in December. The Buccaneers are 7-2 ATS in New Orleans, and the road team is 6-2 ATS in this series recently.
New Orleans is 4-0 ATS against teams with losing records, 5-1 at home against teams with losing road records, and in December, 12-3 at home, 6-2 in NFC South games, 14-5 on fieldturf, 13-5 after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 13-6 after gaining more than 350 yards, 5-11-1 in Week 15 games, and 1-4 after allowing 30 points or more. Before the October game, seven straight games had gone under the total in this series.
Both of these defenses are terrible and the offenses can score in bunches. Expect lots of points. I know that mathematically these teams are still alive for a playoff berth, but they are on life support at best. I think Tampa Bay pulls out a close shootout win against a Saints’ team in disarray right now.
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