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It’s an NFC South showdown as the 5-2 New Orleans Saints are in Tampa for a critical clash with the 6-2 Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday night as part of the NFL’s Week 9 slate. This is the second of two regular-season meetings between the divisional foes, with the Saints spoiling Tom Brady’s debut with the Bucs on opening day in New Orleans a little less than two months ago.
Brady and company are out for revenge in a rematch. They will have the outright division lead on the line in front of a national tv audience.
After four weeks, it looked like the Bucs would run away with the NFC South. But four weeks later, and they’ve found themselves in a dog fight with one of the two teams that beat them outright this season. New Orleans has reeled off four wins in a row, despite the absence of wideout Michael Thomas.
Alvin Kamara has stepped up in a historic way, on pace to set the all-time record for receptions and receiving yards by a running back. The team has needed every bit of them too, as even though they’ve won four in a row, they’ve come by a combined 15 points.
The team also tried to shore up their defense this week by acquiring stud linebacker Kwon Alexander from the fading 49ers for Kiko Alonso and a draft pick.
Big Buc Debut
We mentioned how Brady’s Tampa debut was ruined by Drew Brees and company in Week 1. Now, in Week 9, another notable debut takes center stage.
Recently-acquired wide receiver Antonio Brown was reinstated from his suspension and is expected to be on the field Sunday night. He will be reuniting with Brady, whom he was only able to play one game with last year in New England before legal issues ended his season. Brown joins an offense with Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, and others who are averaging 36 points per game during their three-game win streak. Look for Brady to open it up and spread it out and spread it deep as the Saints have allowed seven passes of 48-plus yards over their past five games. Godwin hopes to return from a finger injury that kept him out of their Week 8 game.
Tampa may have got lucky at the end of their win over the Giants on Monday night. Still, you can’t blame them for potentially looking ahead to this mammoth showdown, especially when they get to unveil another new toy for their quarterback.
Betting Line and Pick
The Bucs are favored in this one by 4.5 with an over/under of 50.5. The Saints won that Week 1 matchup by 11 as a four-point favorite, with the 54 points going well over the posted total of 48. All seven of the Saints games this season have gone over the total, and that trend should continue on Sunday Night at the New Sombrero.
Pick: NO/TB OVER 50.5