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FiveThirtyEight: Saints have a 71% win probability over the Buccaneers

It doesn’t look good for Tampa Bay.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) celebrates as he intercepted the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Raymond James Stadium.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There is some optimism for the Buccaneers as they head to New Orleans to face the Saints in this weekend’s divisional round playoffs. Despite the previous two meetings resulting in losses for Tampa Bay during the regular season, those that are optimistic feel their is a chance they pull off the inevitable upset.

But how big is that chance?

FiveThirtyEight’s Elo model — which has been predicting games based on formulas that take different variables into account like players (quarterbacks especially), team matchups, home-field adjustments — currently has the Bucs with a 29-precent chance of beating the Saints this weekend.

What’s interesting about that prediction percentage is that this is forecasted with their quarterback adjusted Elo model. That model includes specific ratings, stats, and other quarterback metrics. Now if you look at their traditional Elo forecasting model, the Buccaneers chances to defeat the Saints goes up to 33-percent win probability.

Their point spread also doesn’t waver much. New Orleans is favored by six points with the quarterback Elo model, but the spread drops a point to five through their traditional model. Take all that for what it’s worth, but FiveThirtyEight’s model has actually been pretty successful throughout the 2020 season.

For comparison, last week’s forecast for the Bucs game against Washington, their quarterback Elo model listed Tampa Bay with an 83-percent win probability but a 65-percent win probability in their traditional model excluding quarterback adjustments.

The majority of predictions out now seem to be in agreement that the Saints will best the Bucs on Sunday. But all can certainly agree that it’ll be interesting to see how this third and very crucial game for both sides plays out on the field.


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