The Seattle Seahawks have lost both games they have been forced to play without Russell Wilson at quarterback. Last Monday night, the team that handed Seattle their most recent loss, the New Orleans Saints, didn’t look good even though they eked out a three point win.
That is one of the reasons why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are nearly a touchdown favorite when they visit New Orleans on Sunday.
It is not the only reason to not like this year’s Saints squad.
The two Saints losses this season have come against bad teams. They followed up their surprise opening day win over the Green Bay Packers with a loss to the Carolina Panthers. The New York Giants only win in the first six weeks of the season was over the Saints in New Orleans, 27-21.
While the Saints season has been tarnished, Tom Brady has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad playing at a level that induces a repeat Super Bowl championship conversation. The only straight-up loss suffered by the Buccaneers this season was a third week defeat at SoFi Stadium to the Los Angeles Rams, 24-34.
Last Sunday, Brady tossed his career 600th passing touchdown to put him in the loneliness club in America, the 600 passing touchdown club has a single member.
It occurred to me last Sunday while I was watching Tampa shred the Chicago Bears that this quarterback in the Buccaneers uniform is pretty good. In the game against Chicago, even his completions drilled his receivers where only they could catch it. The result against the Bears further solidified the Bucs high regard for their play and chances to repeat.
Tampa Bay’s 35 point win last week, 38-3, and more than 20 point victory margins in two of their other five triumphs, the Brady led Bucs arrive in the Superdome significantly more confident than would best serve them motivationally in this contest.
They lead the Saints by more than a game, two in the win column and one up in the loss column, and can’t lose first place in the NFC South standings even with a defeat. While that may be a negative for the Saints in the standings, in fact, from a motivational perspective it is a major boost. The Bucs are secured of first place in a division where the other two teams, Carolina and the Atlanta Falcons, do not appear threats to the Bucs winning the division.
What that leaves us with on Sunday is a home underdog New Orleans squad in desperate need of a win and not at all sure that even their best effort will achieve victory.
It butts up against a Tampa Bay squad that is the talk of the town while compiling a losing 3-4 mark against the point spread. And following four consecutive straight-up wins are positioned to be upset this week.
A Saints victory is a likely outcome, a Saints point spread win a near certainty.
Qoxhi Picks: New Orleans Saints (+5½) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers