New Orleans @ Tampa Bay
Wager: NOR -5.5
Cover Probability: 52.61%
Cover Edge: 0.43%
New Orleans Saints: (Week 9 bye)
-LB Andrus Peat (arm) was injured week 10. He will not play.
-CB Marshon Lattimore (thigh) was injured week 10. He will not play.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (Week 7 bye)
-DE Carl Nassib (knee) was injured week 9 and INACTIVE week 10. He will not play.
-DE Anthony Nelson (hamstring) was INACTIVE week 10. He will not play.
-CB Carlton Davis (hip) was INACTIVE weeks 9 and 10. He is QUESTIONABLE after not practicing Wednesday, being limited Thursday, and practicing in full on Friday.
-Slot CB M.J. Stewart (knee) will not play.
IR: S Justin Evans (Achilles) is on IR
Spread breakdown: There’s very little line movement here. The spread has consistently bounced between 5 and 5.5. The model grabbed it at 5.5 on Tuesday, and that’s where it sits as of now (Saturday morning). Shop around and find the best line you can.
Quick model note: The model calls for a razor thin 0.43% cover edge. Though technically an edge is an edge, usually we stay away from edges this small to allow for some room for error. However, a manual adjustment is needed on the Saints since the model is using 6 games of Teddy Bridgewater data. Typically, we try to go after edges of 2% or greater, and we feel like the manual adjustment takes us there.
When New Orleans has the ball
The Saints have an unquestioned top 10 offense without any glaring weaknesses. Drew Brees has now played in 4 games this season, and his stats are utterly confusing. Still a completion monster, Brees is completing 74.3% of his passes, good for 7.9 yards per attempt with 5 TDs and 3 picks. He has a barely above average 0.5% DVOA, but his PFF grade is an impressive 84.7. PFF also hasn’t charted him with a single “Big Time Throw,” which is unexpected for a QB of his caliber. He has an aDOT of 6.5, which is second lowest in the league behind his teammate Teddy Bridgewater. I think ultimately Brees is throwing a ton of underneath stuff, which is seems to be what the scheme calls for — and that’s helping his completion percentage but hurting his efficiency metrics. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t overthink this. He’s Drew goddamn Brees and it’s a 4-game sample. He’s really good, okay?
The Saints offensive line is solid, led by all world RT Ryan Ramczyk. They did lose LG Andrus Peat last week, and he won’t suit up for this one. Replacing Peat will be Will Clapp, who’s played limited snaps in his sophomore season. Peat is without question the weak spot on the offensive line, so I really don’t expect this to hurt at all. The rest of the offense is literally just Mike Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Thomas, even with 6 games under Teddy Bridgewater, is on pace for 152 catches this season. That would shatter the record of 143 set by Marvin Harrison in 2002. He’s simply the hands down, best receiver in football right now. Kamara is a workhorse back who is also their second leading receiver. Their complimentary pieces are WR Ted Ginn JR, WR Tre’Quan Smith, and TE Jared Cook — you’ll see them get a few targets each.
On defense, the Bucs are a complete and utter dumpster fire. They’re 21st in DVOA, but that’s aided by their 1st ranked run defense. They’re 27th against the pass in a league that has some realllllllllllly bad pass defenses out there. They have a decent passing rushing duo in Shaq Barrett from the outside and Vita Vea from the inside, but team wise their pressure numbers are below average. Speaking of Barrett, everyone has a hard on for his sack total (12), but since he ranks 18th in total pressures, that’s a number that will surely regress. The secondary is the real issue — the Bucs quite literally do not have a single good player at either corner or safety. What’s worse is they’ll be without their slot corner (MJ Stewart) against a team that loves to throw the ball underneath. Yes, the Bucs run defense is absurdly talented, but we should expect Drew Brees to be able to chuck the rock all over this defense (and by that, I mean between 5 and 10 yards past the line of scrimmage).
(Well done if you caught “hard on for his sack.” Yes, that was on purpose).
When Tampa Bay has the ball:
Oh Jameis, my goodness have you been terrible this year. Good ole’ Jameis is rocking a 59.7% completion percentage, 7.8 yards per attempt, 17 TDs, and fucking 14 picks. PFF has charted him with quite a few turnover worthy plays, meaning that INT number is probably legit. His DVOA is a #bad -9.9%, and his PFF grade is a 68.3. Though Winston is capable of putting together solid games, it’s impossible not to conclude that he’s been terrible this season.
The rest of the offense is a committee backfield without a standout player, a below average offensive line, an underachieving tight end, and two insanely talented wide receivers. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are probably the best receiving duo in football right now, with Evans taking most of the outside routes and Godwin working out of the slot. Evans has 86 targets, 54 catches, 924 yards and 7 TDs. Godwin is at 80 targets, 60 catches, 840 yards and 6 TDs. I think people see how explosive they are and how good Jameis can be and assume the Bucs have a high-powered offense, but their 21st ranked offense in DVOA tells a different story.
The Saints defense, on the other hand, is not a pushover by any stretch. They rank 7th overall in both DVOA and PFF’s rankings and are in general just solid across the board. Up front, Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport are fantastic pass rushers (both play on the outside), and LB Demario Williams, DI Sheldon Rankins, and DI David Onyemata are solid against the run. Their defensive backfield is typically lead by CB Marshon Lattimore, but he’ll miss this one after injuring his thigh last week. Lattimore has an up and down, inconsistent season. That said, he’s clearly the best corner they have and would have been assigned shadow coverage to Mike Evans. Without Lattimore, PJ Williams will likely move from the slot to the outside, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson will step in to take on the slot, with Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams manning the safety positions. Yes, it would have been nice to have Lattimore, but it’s still a solid secondary and Jameis sucks something awful.
Here’s to the Saints marching.
That’s it for now, bitches.