The PewterReport.com staff shares its thoughts on the upcoming Bucs game and pick who we think we win, including a score prediction and a pick-to-click – a Tampa Bay player we think will play really well. Let us know you thoughts and add your prediction in the comment section.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-6) VS. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-2)
WHEN: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1:00 P.M. ET
WHERE: RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM (65,618)
TELEVISION: FOX (WTVT)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: THOM BRENNAMAN ANALYST: CHRIS SPIELMAN
SIDELINE: SHANNON SPAKEBUCS
RADIO: 98ROCK, FLAGSHIP STATION (WXTB-97.9 FM)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: GENE DECKERHOFF ANALYST: DAVE MOORE
SIDELINE: T.J. RIVES
PewterReport.com Publisher/Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
With the Bucs coming off a win last week to snap a four-game losing streak and the Saints coming off a surprising loss to the Falcons a week ago, it’s tempting to pick Tampa Bay at home, especially with the Saints being without star cornerback Marshon Lattimore and interior lineman Andrus Peat due to injury. Then you remember that New Orleans’ future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees is coming off a game in which he was sacked a handful of times and didn’t play well and you realize he’s not going to have bad games back-to-back.
You also realize that Brees will be targeting two rookie cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting and second-year cornerback Carlton Davis, who is coming off a hip injury, and Tampa Bay’s bad pass defense, which ranks last in the NFL in yards allowed. Then you realize that the Saints are still atop the division for good reason and that the Bucs are one game out the NFC South cellar for yet another year.
The Bucs can put up some points, especially without Lattimore, which should allow both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to be open for quarterback Jameis Winston. In fact, this game seems destined for a shootout, especially with tight end O.J. Howard being featured in Bruce Arians’ offense again and the continuation of Ronald Jones’ growth as a running back and a receiver.
But this game will come down to which team’s pass rush is most effective. The Saints sacked Winston six times in New Orleans, while Brees is one of the hardest QBs to sack due to his quick vision and release. Not having Carl Nassib for another week hurts as it puts more pressure on Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to mount the pass rush and play 60-plus snaps, which diminishes their effectiveness as the game goes on. Tampa Bay’s offensive line will have to rise and protect Winston for the Bucs to have a chance at the upset, but I don’t see it happening.
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Saints 33, Bucs 31
Reynolds’ Pick To Click: WR Mike Evans
Reynolds’ Season Record: 2-7
PewterReport.com Editor/Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
There aren’t a lot of favorable matchups for the Buccaneers in this game. When you look at the two teams they are really on the opposite ends of the spectrum. A staff that has been together for years, with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, winners of seven games and favored to represent the NFC in this year’s Super Bowl.
Then you have an inexperienced Bucs team with a new staff still trying to dial up the right combination of players and game plans with a quarterback in limbo, winners of just three games and trying to stay of out the bottom of the cellar in the NFC South.
Still, for whatever reason, the Bucs give the Saints and Drew Brees fits at times. And that could be the case once again this year. Tampa Bay dropped their matchup in the Superdome earlier this year, so if you go by recent history, Tampa Bay is due for a win.
So many things will need to go right for the Bucs to win, the first and most important is QB Jameis Winston being smart with the football. The Bucs will also need their young secondary to play the game of their lives and hope Brees can be coaxed into a few mistake of his own. Secondly, will be the need for the Bucs to turn scoring chances into seven points, not settling for field goals. In a game that could be a shootout, success in the red zone is imperative.
This most likely turns into a back-and-forth game and will be determined by the team that makes the most plays in the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay will handle the Saints running game, but will struggle in the secondary and Brees will throw for close to 400 yards.
This game, if Tampa Bay can some how come out on top, can propel this team on a streak that could turn their season around. They need it badly for their confidence and to get the town excited again for Bucs football. It is a tall order and one this young Bucs team will struggle to accomplish. The grizzled veteran Brees won’t lose two in a row and the more experienced team will come out on top.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Saints 31, Bucs 24
Cook’s Pick To Click: TE O.J. Howard
Cook’s Season Record:1-8
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Trevor Sikkema
Alright I’ll make this simple and just get right to it. The Bucs are going to beat the Saints this Sunday. Here’s why.
Tampa Bay got their butts handed to them in a game that really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated in New Orleans a few weeks ago. However, there were some key players missing from that game and some key performances that I believe will be present this time around.
First of all, wide receivers Mike Evans is not going to be held without a catch again. In fact, with Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore out for this contest, I expect a 100-yard performance for the Bucs star pass catcher. Pair that with a much more confident Ronald Jones facing the Saints this time around, a much more focused O.J Howard, and I believe the offense has what it needs to keep up.
On the flip side, the Bucs defense will be able to keep this game close with the play of their defensive ends. Jason Pierre-Paul was not back yet when the Bucs faced the Saints in New Orleans, so his presence is an immediate upgrade. On the other side, pass rusher Shaq Barrett was just learning what to do with the extra attention offensive lines were giving him. He didn’t know how to handle it in New Orleans. He does now. Add in the fact that Devin White is playing against a totally different level than what he was when he returned from injury in that first Saints meeting and I think they’ll have enough to slow down Drew Brees & Company.
Sikkema’s Score Prediction: Bucs 28, Saints 24
Sikkema’s Pick To Click: OLB Shaq Barrett
Sikkema’s Season Record:1-8
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Matt Matera
It doesn’t matter if it’s against an undefeated team, a winless team, or everyone else in between, the Bucs keep the fight going in close games late in the fourth quarter week in and week out. Once again the Bucs are underdogs, and these underdogs are going to keep it close despite the Saints being highly favored.
If the Bucs are going to keep it close, they need to have the best game of the season from Jameis Winston and the offensive line. There’s just no way you can rely on the Bucs’ defense to win you a game this season, so it might take a shootout of game to get it done. Jameis Winston was sacked six times in their Week 5 contest, but the Bucs have cut down on the sacks over the last two weeks, allowing six total. The Bucs offense has found their groove lately averaging 28.9 points per game, which is best in the NFC. This is a difficult matchup for them though, as they struggled with the Saints defense in New Orleans, but Marshon Lattimore being out for this game helps the Bucs chances.
The true mismatch comes on the other side of the ball. The Bucs released Vernon Hargreaves, leaving Sean Murphy-Bunting, Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and Mazzi Wilkins at corner. They are all rookies with the exception of the returning Davis, who is still a second year player. Dean may have bounced back last week, but this is the first time they will face Drew Brees this season, and he’ll have to guard Michael Thomas at the same time. I think Thomas has a field day against Dean as Brees carves up the Bucs defense, much like many other quarterbacks have done this season. The Bucs will keep it close and put up a fight, but the Saints will win too many of their individual matchups and come out on top.
Matera’s Score Prediction: Saints 30, Bucs 28
Matera’s Pick-To-Click: QB Jameis Winston
Matera’s Season Record: 3-6
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Taylor Jenkins
The Bucs finally snapped their four-game losing streak with their first home win of the season last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately the Saints will pose a far more formidable challenge when they march into Tampa this weekend.
The good news for Tampa Bay is that New Orleans’ top cornerback, Marshon Lattimore, will be forced to miss the divisional matchup. Lattimore has repeatedly proven to be a thorn in the side of Mike Evans, thus magnifying the impact of his absence as Evans looks to surpass 1000 receiving yards for his sixth consecutive season.
The bad news for Tampa Bay is that New Orleans will still roll out a supremely talent roster, highlighted by Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Cameron Jordan, Michael Thomas and future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
This matchup will likely be a high-scoring affair and with Jamel Dean in line to face the toughest test of his young career in Thomas, it will be important for the Bucs to establish their run game early on the shoulders of Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber in order to control the clock, shorten the game and keep the ball out of Brees’ hands.
On the other side of the ball, as the defense enters the game down two outside linebackers in Carl Nassib and Anthony Nelson, the rest of Tampa Bay’s front seven will have to get quick pressure on Brees, finish sacks when they’re available and get him off balance so the star signal-caller isn’t able to find a rhythm and survey the field at his leisure.
All-in-all the Bucs will have their hands full and I think it will take a major performance in all three phases for Tampa Bay to escape with their second consecutive home win.
Jenkins’ Score Prediction: Saints 30, Bucs 20
Jenkins’ Pick-To-Click: RB Ronald Jones
Jenkins’ Season Record: 1-8