What To Watch For: Buccaneers vs Saints

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It is that time of the season again for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The time of the year where they get ready to play one of their biggest rivals in a game that is always hard fought. This week the Bucs will host the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.

The Buccaneers were finally able to break through earlier this year to get their first regular season win in the Tom Brady era. However, this is still a team that has routinely beaten the Bucs in recent years. Can Todd Bowles and the Bucs string together a winning streak or will it be back to the same old song and dance?

Here’s how I see this game.

The Saints Aren’t Marching Anywhere

The biggest difference between this game and the prior matchup in week two comes under center for the Saints. Back then it was Jameis Winston who was a quarterback. We are very familiar with his aggressive style of high risk and high reward.

Now the Buccaneers will prepare to stop Andy Dalton who has taken over as the starter. Dalton is much less talented as a passer and in terms of making plays with his feet. However, he is definitely the safer option which I’m sure was a factor for a defensive minded coach like Dennis Allen.

This has led to an offense that has been less than impressive. The Saints only score 20.8 points per game and have led them to a 4-8 record. In short, the Bucs shouldn’t have too much trouble containing this Saints passing offense despite them being ranked 11th in passing yards per game.

Weaponized

If the Saints are going to be effective through the air, it will be due to their speed at wide receiver. Rookie Chris Olave is extremely fast and is a big play threat any time the ball is in their air.

To compliment this explosiveness, Jarvis Landry is a quality slot receiver who wins with quickness. He can make plays with the ball in his hand and be a reliable third down target. These two make a solid pairing at wide receiver.

Of course we have to mention Alvin Kamara. The Saints running back is still one of the best pass catching backs in the NFL. He has excellent feet and can make defenders miss in space. He should be the focus of the defense this week.

One name I haven’t mentioned is former offensive player of the year Michael Thomas. The man they call “Slant Boy” is out of this game due to injury. This is a former All Pro who won’t be on the field which will certainly be an advantage to the Buccaneers.

Defensive Struggle

Despite their struggles, this is still a good Saints defense. With names like Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, Tyrann Mathieu, and Marshon Lattimore you can expect it to be difficult for this struggling Bucs offense to move the ball. 

On the other side of things, this Buccaneers defense is still playing well. Todd Bowles has this unit well prepared and shutting opponents down week in and week out. I expect this week to be no different.

That means expect this game to be a defensive struggle. In fact, I would be surprised if this game totaled more than 30 points combined between both teams. Brace yourself for a gritty, ugly game on Monday Night.

Overall

These are two of the most underachieving teams in the league this season. Both are chalked full of talent and big names, yet neither are over the .500 mark. It has been a frustrating and disappointing year for both fanbases.

However, the best may still be yet to come. Both of these teams are alive and well in the division race for the NFC South. The Buccaneers currently lead with a 5-6 record, but if the Saints win then they will also have 5 wins. So as unappealing as this game looks, it will have playoff implications.

For this reason I expect the same level of intensity and star power that we typically see in this game. Both want to find their rhythm and make a playoff run. The winner of this game will likely have that opportunity.

Prediction

Saints – 13
Buccaneers – 15

Gambling Odds

Bucs -3.5
Saints +3.5
Over/Under 40.5
Betting odds provided by BookiesBonuses.com

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