The 2018 Buccaneers season begins with a showdown against the Saints in New Orleans. But before we discuss the team’s chances of success, the NFL point spread assigned to this game, and whether or not Ryan Fitzpatrick will be able to lead this team in Jameis Winston’s absence, shouldn’t we talk a little about Jameis Winston himself?

The year is 2015 and the Bucs have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. We know that Tampa Bay chose Winston with that selection, ahead of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, who was selected second overall by the Titans, but was he the right choice and has he lived up to his billing?

Of the seven quarterbacks taken in that draft, Winston is the only one who has been selected to a Pro Bowl (2015) but a penchant for turnovers has kept him from achieving greatness and getting the Bucs into the playoffs. Winston passed for 22 touchdowns and ran for six more in his rookie campaign, but threw 15 interceptions. He threw for a franchise-record 28 touchdowns the next season, but his INT rate increased to 18. An injury-shortened season last year saw Winston throw 19 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions, but he fumbled 10 times.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Winston was turnover-free in the preseason, which was encouraging, but will serve a three-game suspension to kick off 2018. When Winston returns in Week 4 it will be incumbent upon him to lift his team from the depths of the NFC South, where it found themselves last season, and into the postseason. How he conducts himself off the gridiron will go a long way towards predicting how he will fare on it. Because as Winston goes, so too go the Bucs.

As we evaluate this Week 1 contest, where the SBR NFL point spread is currently showing the home team as 9 1/2 point favorites – although that line could move up or down depending on the whims of the betting public – we see that the Bucs are at a disadvantage in several ways. First and foremost, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the man under center and his preseason stats are illustrative of his career – plain ol’ vanilla. In the three exhibition games in which he participated, Fitzpatrick went 17-of-28 with 183 passing yards and no touchdowns or interceptions, but did lead the Bucs on two touchdown drives.

The 35-year-old veteran is more of a game manager as opposed to a game changer. He will keep the seat warm in Winston’s absence and is little chance of continuing to sit on the throne when Winston returns.

The Bucs did a nice job of revamping the defensive line with the trade for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, signing defensive end Vinny Curry and defensive tackle Beau Allen along with the drafting of defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round. Needless to say, Tampa Bay’s pass rush along with their run-stopping ability appears to have been upgraded. Yet, the troubling news emanating out of the Bucs’ camp is that Vea (calf) and starting left tackle Donovan Smith (knee) are still ailing with their respective injuries and their status on Sunday is uncertain.

The Saints will see Drew Brees practicing his brand of quarterbacking voodoo again this year down on the Bayou and the specter of one of the league’s passing greats is always a concern for any defensive backfield, particularly one like Tampa Bay’s where the defensive line is strong but the secondary is relatively inexperienced outside of cornerback Brent Grimes and safety Chris Conte.

Saints QB Drew Brees and Bucs DE Will Gholston - Photo by: Getty Images

Saints QB Drew Brees and Bucs DE Will Gholston – Photo by: Getty Images

New Orleans finished the preseason with a 3-1 record and outscored their last two opponents, the Chargers and Rams by a combined 64-7 margin. Although the preseason is immaterial in terms of the regular season it should be noted that the Saints are 13-5 against the spread (ATS) over their last 18 games against the NFC South while the Bucs are 2-6-1 ATS on the road over their last nine regular season road contests. Bucs fans would love to see their team pull off a shocker in Week 1, but if you value your bankroll, put your money on the Saints at home.

Share On Socials

About the Author: PRStaff

Subscribe
Notify of
27 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Buc76
Buc76
3 years ago

Those are the only questions you should ask. Do we cover? That’s it. Not wins and losses. We lose no doubt Sunday. The only question is by how much? Don’t delude yourselves.

76Buc
76Buc
Reply to  Buc76
3 years ago

Buc76 these are professional athletes. The odds always a chance on any given Sunday, blah, blah, etc.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  Buc76
3 years ago

A voice of reason!!!

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  Buc76
3 years ago

Last time these teams met in week 17 of last year, the Bucs won. What will you do if they win on Sunday? Hopefully you’ll eat some crow.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  BucWild02
3 years ago

Yes, I’ll be glad to eat crow. Difference from the last time we beat Saints, they already clinched a playoff spot. Saints the team to beat in our Division.

Buc76
Buc76
3 years ago

42 to 10 and the wheels are off. Not coming off. They are off

mark2001
mark2001
3 years ago

Won’t happen. After all, we know that huge win the end of last year, that meant we couldn’t draft Quentin Nelson, and instead drafted “When will he play” Vea, will mean we have momentum and will will this game. And if not…all the guys that talked about “momentum” and “moral victories” after that game are full of Colt dung.

mark2001
mark2001
Reply to  mark2001
3 years ago

Why do I get the feeling this is Joe Thomas happening again? If you have been a Bucs fan long enough, seems you have seen every bad thing you have seen before happening twice.

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  mark2001
3 years ago

Quenton Nelson has looked average for the Colts so far.

Schwifty9
Schwifty9
3 years ago

In other news, water is wet.

seat26
seat26
3 years ago

I don’t think this game is un-winnable. Bucs have traditionally played better in New Orleans than in Tampa against the Saints. Not having Winston is regrettable, but all three QB’s looked very good in Preseason. If Bucs Defense is really improved, we will know in this game. If they can get to Brees, they have a chance.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  seat26
3 years ago

Mike Spense better show something!!!

SaskBucs
SaskBucs
3 years ago

I just seen on one site the spread was 10.5! Would like to see the injury reports for sunday but I am giving our guys a shot. If I was somewhere I could put money down I wouldn’t think twice about betting the Bucs +10. I also really like Houston +7 in NE.

Wise gambling fans here should probably bet the farm on NO and NE to cover after reading my thoughts above.

Randy H.
Randy H.
Reply to  SaskBucs
3 years ago

I’m working in Atlantic City now, they are getting 9.5 and the season O/U is 6.5, taking both of them tomorrow.

jiggyjoe
jiggyjoe
3 years ago

If the line can stop the run and get to Brees we can win. We also need to score over 30 points. Thats it.

scubog
scubog
3 years ago

And here we are, only a few more days until the 2018 football season is underway. For the past 42 years, if I had nothing else at the dawn of a “New Day in Tampa Bay”, I had hope that, “This is the year!”. I’ve never tried to guard my psyche by tempering that hope-filled glass of Kool Aid with a splash of “realistic” analysis that the team is going to suck. Rather, I looked on the bright side, realizing that in the NFL there are always surprises. Some good (1979) and some bad (2003) where the predictions of the… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  scubog
3 years ago

So you are thinking Fitzpatrick is as good as Brees and our DC is better than their DC? Good luck.

Pete Wood
Pete Wood
3 years ago

Bucs 31 Saints 23
Bucs are on their way to a ten win season and a wildcard.
You heard it here first.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Pete Wood
3 years ago

You must have been one of those guys last year who said the Bucs would go 12-4 and Winston would take MVP of the league.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
3 years ago

Predicting game outcomes is a useless exercise.

Ditto with entire seasons.

But based upon what we’ve already seen of the 2018 Bucs, a buttkicking by the Saints and a season no better than last year’s 5-11 should surprise nobody.

Pete Wood
Pete Wood
Reply to  Naplesfan
3 years ago

A little optimism never hurt anyone. It’s not like I’m running the team and making decisions based on rose colored glasses.
Just a fan.
Go Bucs!!

surferdudes
3 years ago

The Saints were looking towards the playoffs, and not the Bucs the last time they played. They won’t be looking past them this time. Koetter did that embarrassing thing at the end of the game with Peyton, this time he’ll be the one embarrassed. I to hold out hope for a win this Sunday, but let’s just look at the facts. Brees against Fitz, division champs in their house against a 5-11 bottom feeder.

Buc76
Buc76
3 years ago

This season is a disaster waiting to happen. Get ready for a complete overhaul. 4 and 12. Koetter and Licht gone. There is no way we win one o the first 3 games.

Andy Ely
Andy Ely
Reply to  Buc76
3 years ago

Man I guess we should just not watch a game all year this year then. Get out of here with all the negative talk. Anything can happen once the lights come on and the teams step in between those white lines. The defense has looked much improved, we surprisingly play a lot better in New Orleans. The offense has the fire power Fitz just needs to not turn the ball over and we should be able to pull off the win. Plus I do not know if you know this or not, Nick Foles will most likely be starting for… Read more »

wnb0395
wnb0395
3 years ago

The Saints were also favored week 17 last year.

brasho
brasho
3 years ago

The Saints are usually pretty poor in season openers… and the Bucs aren’t too bad. Plus, the two teams seem to usually split the season series, even when the Bucs are terrible and the Saints are good (though usually when the Bucs win it is week 17, though we did get them in 2015 a couple weeks into the season). Also, the Bucs have seriously upgraded their troops (with the exception of QB) going into this game while the Saints are missing a big part of their attack (Kamara). As for people still whining about missing out on Quentin Nelson….… Read more »

Dman
Dman
3 years ago

I like our odds in this game. Yeah, the Saints are better just because of Brees. But our wild card is the new defensive line. Anyone that has watched us beat N.O. in the past will attest the the key is getting to Brees. If this new D line can deliver I think we’re in this game to the end. I also wouldn’t bet against our offense. Every QB on our roster in the preseason looked great. Our production was great. We’ve got weapons galore and hopefully Fitz can be boring and just get first downs and lead TD drives.… Read more »