Whew. An overwhelming majority of 92% of NFL experts and fan blogs surveyed at NFL Pickwatch like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football this week, with just 8% of expert picks running against the current to back the black and gold.
Do the Saints have it in them to pull off an upset? They’ve done it before, at this exact venue, against this same team — just last year, a staggering 99% of experts picked the Buccaneers over the Saints for their Week 15 game at Raymond James Stadium, only for New Orleans to walk away with a win. A year earlier, 85% of them picked Tampa Bay at home, including the entire NBC Sports pregame panel (except for Drew Brees, who enjoyed a victory lap afterwards).
And this version of the Buccaneers looks a lot less daunting than their predecessors. They’re just 5-6 on the year so far against the Saints at 4-8, playing poorly on both offense and defense at times this season. Tom Brady hasn’t been able to stay in rhythm consistently with his receivers, and his offensive line is in shambles with just one starter returning from last year’s matchup with the Saints (left tackle Donovan Smith, who yielded a season-high 4 pressures in that Week 15 game).
But this version of the Saints has left a lot to be desired, too. They’ve hurt themselves with penalties and poorly-timed mistakes all season. The offense hasn’t been able to shift gears and find success against the more-challenging opponents on their schedule. The decision-making of head coach Dennis Allen and his staff is suspect. They have a lot to prove with their season on the line, and it goes to show why so many people aren’t picking themt o win this game.