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MNF best bets: Saints to bash Brady

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Each Monday, we'll finish off the week that was in the NFL with a look at value spots in the remaining game - under one condition: You promise not to chase. Whether Sunday provided a boost to the accounts or left a little to be desired, Monday Night Football provides an opportunity to show responsibility in your betting, as there'll always be another wild Sunday to get lost in.

On one hand, at 5-6 and 4-8, respectively, this prime-time matchup between the Buccaneers and Saints doesn't have the allure it has had the last few years. On the other hand, somehow Tampa Bay is a division leader, and even stranger, the Saints are a win away from tying the Bucs in the win column before their bye week. With the Bucs set for a trip to the 49ers while the Saints rest up, New Orleans could lead the NFC South in a week's time. Conversely, a loss sends the Saints to 4-9 with no shot at the playoffs. Weird.

Saints @ Buccaneers (-3, 41.5)

What are we supposed to like about the Buccaneers?

It's supposed to be Tom Brady.

However, does Todd Bowles know Brady's on the team? Last week, Bowles opted to punt when the Bucs had the ball on the Browns' 37-yard line on fourth-and-2. He opted to not use a timeout with the clock running on what could have been a Bucs game-winning field goal drive. They ended up running out of time, roughly 10 yards short of kicking range. If you're not going to use the GOAT, why buy the farm?

The problem for Tampa tonight is that since Brady arrived before the 2020 season, the Bucs have just two wins in six tries against New Orleans, losing to three different quarterbacks that were all below league average in yards per game that season.

Week 2 (2022) 18/34 190 yds 1 TD
Week 15 (2021) 26/58 214 yds 0 TD 2 TO
Week 8 (2021) 28/40 375 yds 4 TD 3 TO
Div. Round (2020) 18/33 199 yds 2 TD
Week 9 (2020) 22/38 209 yds 0 TD 3 INT
Week 1 (2020) 23/37 239 yds 2 TD 2 INT

Brady's averaged just 238 yards per game, an average boosted by one game where the Bucs trailed by two scores in the second half. He also has more turnovers than touchdown passes (10-9). All those games came with a much healthier offensive line. Retirements and injuries - the latest to star tackle Tristan Wirfs - have left the depth chart in shambles. Josh Wells had to come in for Wirfs in the playoffs last year and routinely allowed Eagles pressures.

We're supposed to like the Buccaneers' defense. At 24th in the NFL in yards per rush against, though, it's not impossible to string together a drive against them. Vita Vea and Akiem Hicks are both questionable, and even if they start Monday night, it doesn't mean they'll finish. Meanwhile, both starting safeties are doubtful, leaving them vulnerable deep.

In Week 2, it was 3-3 through three quarters, but the Saints were without Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill had just three carries before getting hurt, and Jameis Winston threw three interceptions. New Orleans just got shutout in San Francisco last week, but it's not facing the best defense in the league when it gets into field-goal range this week.

If Bowles wants to live life playing for a tie, that might be all the Saints need to at least stay in touch with Tampa, and we'll bet on this one going down to the wire.

Pick: Saints +3.5 (-120)

Tom Brady under 271.5 passing yards

Brady's thrown for an average of 277.5 yards per game this season, so you can see why his yardage total might be lined where it is. However, Brady's passing yardage total has been lower than this seven times this season, including Week 2 when it was 265.5. Maybe Brady's forced to throw more, getting over this number by volume, but a healthier Saints defense - that held the 49ers to just 4.7 yards per play last week - can execute a game plan that's been successful in the past.

Rashid Shaheed longest reception over 9.5 yards

Rookie receiver Shaheed got his first look in Week 6, averaging nine snaps for five games and getting on the field for very specific plays. The last two weeks, though, Shaheed's played half of the Saints' snaps. He's getting increasingly worked into New Orleans' offense, and half of his eight catches on the season have gone for 12 or more yards.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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