The NFL released its 17-week schedule Thursday, and it didn’t take long for Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers to discover their first big game. In Week 1, Tampa Bay will travel to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints.
The contest already feels like a playoff appetizer between two conference contenders who figure to be battling for the NFC South crown. Now, it has even more juice after the Saints opened as a 6.5-point favorite, putting a Brady betting streak in danger.
Although each one has been with New England, Brady has been favored in 74 consecutive regular-season starts, which is the longest streak of its kind in the Super Bowl era. To bring that streak to 75, the Bucs are going to need significant action in the leadup to the NFL season.
But just how impressive is Brady’s 74-game streak as a favorite? Among active players, next on the list is Brady’s Week 1 opponent, Brees, who owns a nine-game streak as a favorite.
Yet Brady isn’t a stranger to success in the underdog role. Against the spread, New England went 33-13-1 as an underdog when Brady started under center. Outright, the Pats won 29 of 47 games in which the opponent was favored.
Saints’ Edge Over Brady’s Bucs
While it feels ridiculous to ever call Brady an underdog, especially after making a move to Tampa Bay to join up with one of the league’s best receiving units, you don’t have to look very hard to see why New Orleans is favored.
First of all, New Orleans will be at home, where they’ve built a fortress under Sean Payton. The Saints are a combined 19-5 in New Orleans over the last three regular seasons. However, there’s a strong possibility that early-season NFL games will be played without fans at full capacity, which could affect New Orleans’ home-field advantage.
The Saints also have the advantage of having continuity, especially on the offensive side of the ball, in a season in which such a quality if paramount.
While teams like the Buccaneers aren’t able to get in a full offseason of work to learn one another’s tendencies due to the coronavirus pandemic, it can be assumed that New Orleans needs far less preparation with Payton, Brees, and an offensive on the same page.
Despite all of the above, a 6.5-line against Brady feels high, even if that sentiment comes from the fact that Tampa Bay is an unknown heading into a season in which it has a six-time Super Bowl winner under center.
Bucs Or Saints To Take NFC South Crown?
Despite former quarterback Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions, the Bucs were able to earn a record of 7-9 in 2019. How much should they improve with Brady leading an offense with weapons like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin?
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, that answer is about 2.5 games. Right now, the over/under set for the Bucs’ regular-season win total is 9.5 games, which makes them a playoff contender at the very least.
But does Tampa Bay have enough talent to usurp New Orleans as NFC South champs? They just might, although the Bucs’ +160 odds to win the division trail the Saints’ -110 odds.
The Brady-Brees rivalry gets most interesting when projecting who has the best chance of getting to another Super Bowl. In the NFC, both teams own top-three odds of reaching the sport’s biggest game.
Trailing only the conference-favorite 49ers (+460), the Saints own +650 odds of winning the NFC while the Bucs own +700 odds.
When it comes to winning the Super Bowl, New Orleans’ +1200 odds and Tampa Bay’s +1500 odds trail only Kansas City (+650), Baltimore (+700), and San Francisco (+900).