The New Orleans Saints will look to secure the NFC South division title when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17. Kickoff is set for 4:25 EST on Sunday, December 31 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The game will be broadcast on Fox in local markets.
Oddsmakers view the Saints as 7.5-point road favorites over the Bucs. The over/under is listed at 50.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of the Week 17 betting odds and links to more game previews.
Buccaneers vs Saints Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview
The Saints have endured a couple setbacks recently, losing two of their last five games. However, they enter Week 17 at 11-4 and just one win away from clinching the NFC South and a home playoff game. A Carolina loss would also give the Saints a division title. With a win and a Rams loss in Week 17, New Orleans can climb as high as the no. 3 seed, which would help them avoid a trip to Philadelphia for the divisional round.
The Bucs, meanwhile, are reeling and ready for the season to be over. Tampa is currently nursing a five-game losing streak that has dropped them to 4-11 on the season. Last week’s loss to Carolina was particularly frustrating and led to a scuffle in the locker room after the game. Head coach Dirk Koetter is squarely on the hot seat, especially with rumors swirling that Jon Gruden may want to return to Tampa Bay. At this point, even a win over New Orleans may not be enough to save Koetter’s job.
When these teams met in Week 9, the Saints won easily 30-10. Of course, that was the game in which Jameis Winston hurt his shoulder, forcing Ryan Fitzpatrick to take over. Winston has since returned and has looked healthy late in the season.
NFL Betting Predictions & Free Pick Against the Spread: Bucs +7.5
On paper, this game looks like a mismatch, so my first instinct was to lean toward the Saints to cover. But the Buccaneers have been far more competitive this season than their record indicates. I’m going to lean toward the Bucs to at least keep this game within a touchdown and beat the spread.
It’s true that Tampa Bay has lost five games in a row. But their last four losses have come by six points or less, including one game that went to overtime. All of those games were against teams in the playoff hunt at the time, so they’re playing tight games against teams that have something on the line. If that trend continues, the Bucs should play another close game with the Saints this week.
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Winston’s return from injury has been the key to Tampa Bay staying competitive in their last four games. He has eight touchdown passes and two interceptions in those four games and has completed at least 65% of his passes in each game. As a team, the Bucs don’t have enough to beat quality teams. But Winston has been able to elevate the entire team over the past month.
To be fair, much of Winston’s magic comes after the Buccaneers dig themselves into a hole. However, Winston’s passion and intensity ensure that Tampa Bay doesn’t give up in any game, and it’ll also ensure that the Bucs don’t come out flat in a meaningless Week 17 game. That helps give me confidence that the Buccaneers will keep this game close.
Also, the Saints have lost their last two road games, which makes me hesitant to lean toward New Orleans. To be fair, those losses came against the Rams and Falcons, two teams likely heading for the playoffs. Nevertheless, those road losses are something to consider.
Ultimately, I expect the Saints to win this game. After the season they’ve had, they don’t want to risk losing out on a division title and having to play three road playoff games. But the Bucs are a different team with Winston back and healthy compared to the first meeting between these teams. I’ll take my chances with Tampa Bay and the points.