NFL Odds and Preview — Saints-Bucs: Brady Brings a Real Arsenal to New Orleans

Betting tips for Tampa Bay at New Orleans

It is quite understandably one of the most widely anticipated season openers in recent memory. And while if may not signal the beginning of another “dynasty,” the debut of six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is exciting for fans and NFL bettors, who are enthusiastic enough that the Bucs are listed at +1200 to win the Super Bowl at BetOnline. But in order to get there, they may have to topple the New Orleans Saints, who are indeed the favorites in the NFC South, where the two teams reside. These clubs will tangle at 4:25 PM ET at the Superdome, to be televised on Fox.

Brady inked a one-year, $30 million deal with the Bucs, who have definitely gone “all-in.” There was enough artillery on this offense as it was that Jameis Winston threw for over 5000 yards in 2019. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, both Pro Bowl wide receivers, were already on hand. So were tight ends Cameron Brate and OJ Howard. Brady would have had enough to work with.

Tampa Bay betting tipsBut head coach Bruce Arians and Bucs’ management have gone farther than that. To make Brady really comfortable, they went out and signed Rob Gronkowski, to give them the makings of a sensational two-tight end formation when they choose to go that way, with three guys rotating. And just recently they signed Leonard Fournette, a legitimate 1000-yard back who was released by Jacksonville, and who fills a glaring need.

There is another glaring need, however. While statistically the Bucs were best in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 74 yards per game, that might have been the case because they were so porous against the pass, with only two NFL teams surrendering more yardage on a per-game basis.

In the NFL odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Saints are the favorites:

New Orleans Saints        -3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5

Over 47.5 points (-112)
Under 47.5 points (-108)

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Undoubtedly the Bucs will have their work cut out for them stopping any and all capable passing attacks, and Drew Brees is, of course, no stranger to what they can do. We’re not sure Michael Thomas can do much better than the 149 receptions he had last season. But head coach Sean Payton is hoping he won’t have to. Generally the passing game has not had a lot of threatening wideouts joining Thomas; they make good use of tight end Jared Cook, and running back Alvin Kamara caught 81 passes last year. Brees doesn’t throw it very far past the line of scrimmage, and he is deadly accurate, with better than 70% completions and a 27-4 ratio of TD’s to interceptions.

New Orleans Saints pickThis season they may have added a little spice to the mix, enlisting Emmanuel Sanders, who at his best was a Pro Bowl target for Peyton Manning in Denver, and made himself very useful for the 49ers in the second half of the 2019 campaign. If Sanders can use some of his savvy to take pressure off Thomas, it makes the Saints harder to stop, especially against a Tampa Bay secondary that is still a work in progress. The Bucs have the ability to put some pressure on, with the likes of Shaquill Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndomukong Suh and others. But the quick-releasing Brees has a way of mitigating that kind of thing.

New Orleans is listed by the BetOnline folks at -115 to win the NFC South, with the Bucs at +140.

We’ve no doubt that Tampa Bay can be competitive, and that Brady can hit the ground running. They may wind up scoring more points than anybody, and it will be fun to see what Arians, a formidable offensive mind, comes up with, especially with a great deal of balance. But preventing teams from scoring will be the Buccaneers’ challenge. Even with that rush defense they allowed 28.1 ppg. Just two teams gave up more. This will be entertaining, as the game has a good chance of sailing OVER the total.

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