After an exciting Sunday of action, we have one more opportunity this week to wager on professional football. So which plays do our analysts like the most?
ESPN Stats & Information’s Seth Walder and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz provide their top plays for the matchup.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5, 40.5)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, at Raymond James Stadium
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers host Alvin Kamara and the Saints in a pivotal NFC South matchup. The Buccaneers enter Monday night as favorites to win this game and are also currently -430 to win the division. What are your thoughts on this matchup and the NFC South race?
Schatz: At -430, it’s slightly too rich for me to take the Buccaneers to win the division, but I’ll happily take Tampa Bay -3.5 in this game. Tampa Bay has been better than its record and currently ranks 10th in DVOA. The defense is seventh and even the pass offense is still 10th. Tampa Bay’s big issues have been luck and the running game. Compare the Buccaneers to the Saints, who are 25th overall with an average defense and both a poor offense and special teams. Especially considering that offense is more predictive than defense, I’m going with Tampa Bay on Monday night.
The Saints have found success limiting Brady in the past matchups between these two teams. Brady’s passing props for Monday night are 272.5 yards and 1.5 touchdowns. Do you see Brady having a big night against the Saints or will New Orleans slow him down once again?
Schatz: I’m not sure this is the same New Orleans defense that has done such a good job holding back Brady in recent years. There are a lot of injuries. If I were a Saints fan I would be particularly worried about Marshon Lattimore, who has such a great history of slowing down Mike Evans, but also hasn’t played since Week 5. Without Lattimore, I think Tampa Bay can definitely throw on the Saints — and they’ll need to because that running game has been so problematic.
Rookie wide receiver Chris Olave has been one of the bright spots for New Orleans this season. He currently leads all Saints receivers with 56 receptions and 822 yards on 92 targets. Olave has the second-best odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year (+550) and his receiving prop for Monday night is 56.5 yards. Do you see Olave having a big game against the Tampa Bay secondary, and can he pass Kenneth Walker III in the rookie race?
Walder: Yes, and yes. First, I’ll lean toward Olave getting over 60.5 yards here. My model is right in line with that number, but I still like the over because that’s not incorporating our receiver tracking metrics, where Olave shines. Seriously! He ranks sixth in overall score among all receivers and tight ends, trailing only A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Tyler Lockett and Justin Jefferson. That’s it. Get this man a quarterback! And that’s also why I think he’s a great value for OROY. He’s already three times the player Walker is and would easily be my vote if I had one. I’m surprised he’s not the favorite.