Buccaneers vs. Saints: The best betting props for the NFL Divisional Round
It’s been almost 50 years since Schoolhouse Rock released the tune "Three Is a Magic Number," but that catchy number is relevant for the New Orleans Saints, as they head into their Divisional Round matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That’s because the Saints already have two wins over the Bucs this season — a 34-23 victory opening week and a 38-3 hammering in Week 9.
Sun, January 17 2021, 11:40 PM
Will Tampa buck the trend? Or will the Saints make it a hat trick? Either way, here are the hottest four prop bets for Sunday’s game.
Alvin Kamara rushing yards
This is less about Kamara than Tampa’s dominant rush defense.
The Buccaneers have the NFL’s top rush defense and have given up an average of just 80 yards per game on the ground. The defense limits opposing running backs to an average of just 3.6 yards per carry, by far the strongest number in the NFL.
Only Brian Hill and Dalvin Cook have rushed for more than 60 yards in a game against Tampa Bay this season. That’s it. That’s the list.
Kamara ran for 99 yards last week against the Bears and finished off the season with 155 yards and six touchdown against the Vikings. But don’t let that record-breaking game mask his difficulties this year. In the seven games prior, he went past 54 rushing yards just once.
The Bucs limited Kamara to 40 yards in Week 9 and 16 yards in Week 1. Expect another difficult night for the star running back.
Pick: Under 61.5 Rushing Yards (-125)
Jared Cook receptions
Drew Brees managed to target three different Saints receivers seven times each last week against the Bears, as Jared Cook, Michael Thomas, and Deonte Harris all got good looks. But Brees didn’t get sacked against Chicago, as his offensive line gave him plenty of protection.
Cook has benefited from the distribution and had at least three catches in five of his last six games.
Cook found plenty of room to play against the Bucs in Week 1, when he hauled in five catches from seven targets for 80 yards, including a 46-yard tear. He had a quieter game in the Week 9 blowout, when he caught two of three targets, as Brees found 12 different receivers and the Saints went wild.
The Bucs managed to sack Brees just twice in the two games this season, so expect him to have time to find a variety of targets again.
In the four games since he returned from injury, Brees has thrown 32 times or more in three, so there should be plenty of targets on offer for Cook.
Pick: Over 2.5 receptions (-130)
Tom Brady passing yards
Never bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs, never bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs, never bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs…
You know the rule, and now you know what’s coming next.
I’m on the Under.
Brady went to town in Washington and chucked for 381 yards and two touchdowns in the Wild Card Round. In the regular season and playoffs since he joined Tampa Bay, Brady now has four games where he has surpassed 340 passing yards.
But this is a different proposition. The Saints have the fifth-best pass defense in the NFL and no QB this year has thrown for more than 300 yards against them since Jimmy Garoppolo did it in December of 2019.
Brady was held to 239 yards in Week 1 and 209 yards in Week 9. These are the games he lives for, but I’m still backing the Saints to shut him down.
Pick: Under 306.5 passing yards (-115)
Rob Gronkowski receptions
Brady’s targets in the last five games have been well spread out, such are the weapons he has in his arsenal. And it’s all fairly even, bar one standout omission.
In the Buccaneers' last five games, Chris Godwin had 36 targets, Antonio Brown had 36, and Mike Evans had 38. Rob Gronkowski had just 16.
From those targets, Gronkowski managed just eight catches for 118 yards. Fellow tight end Cameron Brate had 15 targets but turned them into 12 catches for 180 yards.
Gronk isn’t the force he once was, and he among a collection of talented receivers, which has hurt his receptions. He has managed three catches or more in a game just twice since Week 9, and the Saints held him to just three catches across both games this year.
These odds on Gronk look wrong, as Brady has looked elsewhere.