NFL Picks Week 9: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, 11/6/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  New Orleans -7.5
Current Betting Line:  New Orleans -8
Opening Total:  52
Current Total:  50
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount is expected back in the lineup Sunday versus the New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay dropped a 24-18 contest to the Chicago Bears as 1.5-point underdogs in London two weeks ago and will now be facing a revenge-minded division rival.  The Buccaneers will need all hands on deck, including second-year running back LeGarrette Blount, who has been absent the last two games due to a knee injury.  His return is especially important now due to backup Earnest Graham being lost for the season.  Tampa Bay will be facing a New Orleans defense that ranks 24th in the league in allowing 124.1 rushing yards per game.  Over the last two-plus seasons, the franchise is 13-4 ATS when playing on the road.

The Buccaneers have held their own in this series since the NFC South was created back in 2002, coming in with a 10-9 record, including a 26-20 win as six-point home underdogs on Oct. 16.  Tampa Bay hopes that quarterback Josh Freeman gets back to playing solid football, throwing 10 interceptions and just seven touchdowns before heading into the week off.  He was one of the more efficient passers in the league a year ago.  His teammates rank fourth in the league with 15 dropped passes.

New Orleans was handed a 31-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams as 13.5-point road favorites, which served as the first game the team had been out-gained since Sept. 25.  The Saints were left shocked in the locker room following a loss that came just a week after registering a 62-7 blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts on primetime television.  “We need to show consistency, so that’s pressure on ourselves,” commented Saints signal-caller Drew Brees.  “This is facing a little adversity here.”  New Orleans is 12-12 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points, while the ‘under’ is 13-11 in that situation.

The Saints need to focus on their running game, dropping all three games this season when running for less than the century mark.  New Orleans leading rusher is rookie Mark Ingram, who has gained 329 rushing touchdowns and hit pay dirt three times.  Brees also figures to be a main component of this contest, but his offensive line will need to protect him better, getting sacked six times last week and 19 times over the course of the 2011 campaign.

Bettors will likely back the Buccaneers due to their 11-0 ATS mark on the road against a team with a winning home record, while the Saints are 4-11 ATS versus the division.

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