Two NFC South teams dealing with suspensions to key players will square off in New Orleans on Sunday when the Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as huge home favorites at the sportsbooks.
The Buccaneers are without starting quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games because he violated the NFL's personal conduct policy while the Saints will not have running back Mark Ingram for four games due to performance-enhancing drugs.
NFL point spread: The Saints opened as seven-point favorites; the total was 52 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 33.9-14.6 Saints (NFL picks on every game)
Why the Buccaneers can cover the spread
Tampa Bay is the biggest underdog on the betting board in Week 1, and that means the team simply needs to stay within a touchdown to cover the spread. While that is easier said than done, the Buccaneers have faith in veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was not on the field for their 31-24 upset of New Orleans in Week 17 last year.
Still, the Saints closed as six-point road favorites in that game and failed to come through in a contest that was much bigger to playoff-contender New Orleans than its opponent.
Why the Saints can cover the spread
New Orleans has staked its claim as one of the best home teams in the league again, proving that again in 2017 when the team went 7-1 straight up and 4-4 against the spread, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
In two of the four games in which the Saints did not cover last season, they still won by eight points or more as big favorites. In addition, New Orleans is a perfect 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in its last six home games versus divisional foes, with Tampa Bay losing twice during that stretch both ways.
Smart betting pick
There is no doubt that Winston is a much bigger loss for the Buccaneers than Ingram for the Saints, with Alvin Kamara serving as an outstanding replacement in his second year.
Tampa Bay is also just 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in its last seven road games at New Orleans, giving the home team yet another edge. Expect the Saints to ride the arm of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees to a double-digit victory and another cover.
NFL betting trends
The total has gone under in 14 of the Buccaneers' last 19 games against the Saints.
The Buccaneers are 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games on the road against the Saints.
The Saints are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in their last six games against their division at home.
All NFL odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.