After an impressive week one performance against the Dallas Cowboys, The Buccaneers are back on the road to take on their old nemesis, the New Orleans Saints.
The Buccaneers have been awful in the Tom Brady era against the Saints going 0-4 against their biggest rival. It hasn’t mattered if they played in New Orleans or at Raymond James; the results have been the same. A loss for the Buccaneers.
The only exception was the divisional playoff game following the 2020 season in New Orleans, where the Bucs beat the Saints 30-20 in the final game of Drew Brees’s career.
The Bucs have not beaten the Saints in New Orleans since December 2017.
Sunday afternoon, the Saints had to come back from a 17-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-26 on a Will Lutz field goal in the last minute.
The Buc’s defense was dominant in their opening night 19-3 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bucs did get banged up a bit as tackle Donovan Smith hyperextended his elbow and will probably miss the game against the Saints.
That means Josh Wells will step in and start at left tackle instead of Smith.
Wide Receiver Chris Godwin suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter and has been ruled out of the game on Sunday.
The Bucs will roll out Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Russell Gage as their three starters. In addition, Scotty Miller may get a look as part of the offense for the first time this season.
Saints running back Alvin Kamara is listed as questionable this week. The Saints signed Latavius Murray to the practice squad to add depth to the position.
Wide receiver Michael Thomas is still not quite 100 percent recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in training camp. The Saints also added Jarvis Landry and rookie Chris Olave during the off-season.
Here are my three keys for a Buccaneers win on Sunday.
—Run the ball with authority.
Leonard Fournette had a great game last week, running for 127 yards and averaging over six yards a carry. Todd Bowles was so confident in Fournette’s ability to run the ball that Ke’Shawn Vaughan was inactive, and Gio Bernard never touched the ball.
Fournette and Rachaad White carried the load for the Buccaneers on the ground.
The Bucs need another strong run game to keep the New Orleans offense off the field.
Tampa has been mediocre running the ball the last few years, but if Sunday is any indication of what we will see from the run game this season, that makes this offense much more dangerous.
–Win the battle in the trenches.
This will be a tall order. The Bucs did an excellent job against the front seven of Dallas as Tom Brady was hit just four times all night, two of those coming on sacks by Micah Parsons.
Josh Wells will step in at left tackle in place of the injured Donovan Smith. Wells acquitted himself well once he settled down and got some help blocking last year’s defensive Rookie Of The Year, Micah Parsons.
The Saints are formidable up front defensively with Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport.
Tom Brady was sacked three times and intercepted twice in the 36-27 loss in New Orleans last season. Brady was also sacked four times in Tampa as the Buccaneers lost 9-0.
Remember that Brady was sacked just 22 times last season, with seven of those sacks coming against New Orleans.
Linebacker DeMario Davis can also cause problems for opposing offenses. Robert Hainsey, who will call the blocking schemes for the Bucs on Offense, will have to know where Davis is on every play.
The Falcon’s defense got to Jameis Winston four times in their 27-26 loss last week, with Grady Jarrett leading the charge.
The Saint’s offensive line seems weak at the point of attack, which the Bucs should be able to take advantage of, with Vita Vea, Akiem Hicks, and Logan Hall bringing the pressure.
The Bucs and Saints have had epic battles in the Super dome the last few years. Emotions have run hot and boiled over at times. The Bucs were penalized 11 times for 99 yards last season against the Saints.
Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore have had their epic battles. I expect emotions to run high Sunday afternoon as well. But, everyone must maintain their composure.
Nothing will kill a drive quicker or keep the defense on the field longer than taking stupid penalties.
Hard to believe that in the Brady era in Tampa, the Bucs are 1-7 against the Saints and Rams. The Bucs have gone 29-3 against the rest of the league.
Tom Brady does not want to go winless against the Saints wearing a Buccaneer uniform. Brady is 0-4 in the regular season against New Orleans and will look for that elusive first win on Sunday.
I think the Bucs will break that streak on Sunday. A Ryan Succop field goal is the difference in a close contest as the Bucs win 28-25.