Free NFL Picks New Orleans at Tampa Bay 10-17-2010

October 14, 2010


New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday October 17th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: New Orleans -4


It is clear that the Saints have a target on their back. Every single team that plays the Saints bring everything they have. When you have your opponent always playing at their highest level, you find yourself in close games. This will bode well for the Saints come playoff time, when everyone is playing at that level regardless. The Saints and Bucs both have three wins, with Tampa Bay only posting one loss. While they started out at opposite ends of the spectrum, both have had above average seasons thus far. Tampa is at home, coming off a big win against the Bengals. The Saints just suffered a ten point loss to a Cardinals team with an undrafted rookie quarterback.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Bucs haven’t beaten anyone. They achieved victories over the defeated Panthers, the one win Browns, and the inconsistent Bengals, who happened to be Cleveland’s sole victory. The Bengals are their “big win” of the season. It took a bye week to come away with it. The Saints would be a huge confidence booster. There is no taking away from what the Bucs have done this year. Going in, they were perceived as one of the worst teams in the league. People are just getting ahead of themselves by getting wrapped up in their record. They already surpassed expectations, equaling last year’s win total in just four games. It will be interesting to see how they respond to a team with talent.
  • The Saints need the ground game to come back. Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory aren’t doing it for the ground game. With Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush out, it seemed like a good move when Sean Peyton brought in Julius Jones. Jones won’t have the impact the Saints had before, but he is a solid runner who will help fill the void until Bush and Thomas return. It is odd the backfield is even a topic for discussion, as it has always been an afterthought in the Saints explosive offense. The fact of the matter is, with Reggie Bush drawing the defense in with his dangerous underneath routes and Thomas quietly gaining yards,the passing game opened up. Now, with defenses completely focused on shutting down Drew Brees, he is struggling. The offense has become one dimensional. Brees put up a quarterback rating of 68.2 last week. The ending result was a loss. It is clear something is missing from the offense. Julius Jones isn’t the answer, but he might be just good enough to get by.
  • Josh Freeman is playing fantastic football. He is leaps and bounds better than Max Hall, who led a Cardinals offense that put up thirty on the Saints. The Buccaneers looked like they might be reaching for Freeman when they drafted him last year. It might not be so. His athleticism allows him to get it done on the ground when no options are available, but he looks to throw first. Like most quarterbacks with his skill set, throwing on the run is natural. Even without super star targets, he is making the most of his offense. Freeman looks mature and confident. He struggled against the Steelers, but so has everyone else. His play is a great sign of the future for the Buccaneers. Mike Williams has worked out well at receiver. Imagine what would happen if the brought in a few more play makers.

Wrap Up:

The Saints only beat the Panthers by two. They are going to get every ounce of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come Sunday. I have been the biggest Buccaneers doubter the entire year, but the Saints don’t win by a large margin. I think the Bucs will lose this one by a field goal. The Saints obviously want to come back and make a statement after last week, but with a battered backfield, that isn’t going to be an easy task.

Free NFL Pick: Tampa Bay +4

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