Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are both expected to return for New Orleans, while Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are both expected to suit up for the Buccaneers
Despite escaping New York with just a two-point win, Tampa Bay is one of the hottest teams in football. They started slow in that Monday night victory, but went on a 22-3 run before the Giants pieced together a late touchdown drive in the game’s waning moments. Not their best showing overall, but on the back of big wins against the Packers and Raiders, they continue to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the NFL on both sides of the ball.
New Orleans is on a four-game winning streak of their own, but every win has come by one possession, and two have required overtime. It’s a fascinating matchup between two similar teams quarterbacked by future Hall of Famers playing behind elite offensive lines. While both quarterbacks have struggled to get the ball down the field, it’s fair to say Drew Brees has shown his age a bit more in that respect, though the Saints have remained a reasonably efficient offense running things through Alvin Kamara.
And now Michael Thomas is expected back, as is Emmanuel Sanders, and for the first time since Week 1 Brees should have his full complement of weapons at his disposal. That Week 1 matchup came against the Bucs, and Thomas had a hard time getting open against Carlton Davis even before his late injury. Trying to come back from ankle and hamstring injuries, and in an outdoor road game away from the friendly Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the deck is perhaps stacked against Thomas in his first game in two months. I still like his odds to have an impact either directly by catching more passes in this rematch or indirectly on the efficiency of the offense as a whole by freeing up Kamara or other pass-catchers.
Tampa Bay also has some new faces, as they will likely welcome back Chris Godwin and also activate Antonio Brown for his first game with the Buccaneers. With Rob Gronkowski showing a little life the past few weeks and Mike Evans still around if not quite as productive as he has been in the past, Tom Brady’s offense is now absolutely loaded with pass-catchers. They’ve also run the ball fairly well between Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, and have won all three home games this season by at least a touchdown.
But I’m taking the Saints to break that streak. New Orleans’ offense gets a much bigger boost from the return of Thomas than the Bucs adding more talent, and I’m dubious Brown will have the type of immediate impact he had in his one game with Brady in New England in 2019. Five points is a nice cushion in what should be a hotly contested matchup that could be decided by a field goal.
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Saints +5 @ -110
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