It’s finally here. A day that many of us thought was in doubt just a few months ago.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to open up the 2020 season against the New Orleans Saints.
This is already being billed as the game of the year. Tom Brady of the Buccaneers going up against Drew Brees of the Saints.
This will be the first matchup in NFL history with two starting quarterbacks over the age of 40.
Together they have 151, 987 passing yards, and 1,088 touchdown passes.
Brady is 2-3 lifetime against Brees. The most recent meeting, a 30-27 Patriot win in 2017.
The two met in college in 1999 with Michigan beating Purdue 38-12
Brady will add another record to the NFL record book when he takes his first snap. Brady will have played in 327 games. That breaks the record set by Brett Favre.
But this game is much more the Brady vs. Brees.
This is about the best team in football on paper the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going into New Orleans and trying to defeat a Saints team that is a favorite to play in the Super Bowl in February.
The Saints are very potent on offense. Michal Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are the starting wide receivers. Thomas is the best receiver in the NFL and has been the last couple of seasons.
Thomas had 149 catches last season for 1725 yards and nine touchdowns.
Alvin Kamara is back as the Saints starting running back. Kamara is a great all-purpose back that can get the yards on the ground and is a great pass catcher out of the backfield.
Kamara just signed a five-year $75 million dollar contract.
Kamara ran for 797 yards and five touchdowns last season. Kamara had 81 catches out of the backfield for 533 yards and one touchdown through the air.
This will be a key matchup to watch. Kamara, against the Bucs linebackers of Devin White and Lavonte David. The Saints did not see White at 100 percent last season, so it will be interesting to see White play against Kamara.
The young Bucs secondary will have their hands full with Thomas.
With Thomas, Sanders, and tight end Jared Cook all pass-catching threats, the Bucs will have to be careful not to focus so much on Thomas that Sanders and Cook are left wide open.
This will be a good test for the young Bucs defense. The defense was number one against the run last season giving up 73 yards a game.
The pass defense improved the last eight games of the season. I will be watching for continued improvement form this young group.
This is going to be the first look at the Bucs re-tooled offense with Tom Brady under center.
Brady has more weapons at his disposal than at any time in his career. Gronkowski, Evans, Godwin, McCoy, Fournette, and Ronald Jones.
The Bucs receiving group should see plenty of single coverages this season. This will create an opportunity for someone to make a big play.
Mike Evans will be a game-time decision for the Bucs. Evans is the only starter that is considered questionable. Arians said that it will be a game-time decision wither Evans will play or not.
Evans struggled against the Saints last season. In New Orleans, Evans did not have a catch, while Godwin had seven catches for 125 yards.
The Saints secondary of Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins, Malcolm Jenkins, and Marcus Williams played well against the Bucs last year.
Overall the Saints pass defense was mediocre as they allowed 241 passing yards per game good for 19th in the league.
Something to watch for with the Bucs will be the overall chemistry of this new offense. It usually takes a few games to get comfortable with one another.
Brady, Gronkowski, McCoy, Fournette, and the rookie Tristan Wirfs, are all brand new to this offense. That’s close to 50 percent of the starters.
It would not be surprising to see the Bucs start slowly on offense and get better as the game goes along.
The Bucs defensive backs will be at a height disadvantage in covering Michael Thomas. This has been a problem at times in the past and the Bucs have had trouble containing Thomas.
The game could also come down to who makes the least amount of errors on special teams. Special teams play can be critical to a team winning and losing. It will be baptism by fire for all special teams tomorrow as this will be the first time that a lot of these guys have played together.
Three keys to the game:
1. How quickly can the Bucs get into sync on offense with five new key players?
2. The play of the special teams.
3. The Play of the young secondary against Drew Brees and the Saints receivers.
This will be a very entertaining game. There should be lots of action up and down the field for both teams.
The Saint’s have played together longer as a unit than the Bucs offense has. They have developed that continuity that the Bucs offense is working to develop.
I like the Saints to win 35-28 in a shootout at the Superdome.