On Sunday night, two of the most explosive and experienced offenses in the NFL meet for a third time this season. The New Orleans Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes Benz Superdome as two NFC South rivals lock horns once again.
The teams met on the opening day of the season in Louisiana and it was Saints QB Drew Brees who came out on top steering his team to a 34-23 victory.
The Saints then improved on that mark a few weeks later on Week 9 of the season. Drew Brees led the Saints to a thumping 38-3 win over the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
In that final game, the Saints led 31-0 at the interval and Tom Brady and co will know that if the Buccaneers are to stand any chance of victory in this game, they will need to keep that excellent Saints offense in check early.
Saints Make Heavy Weather of Bears Win
As expected the Saints were comfortable winners over the Bears in Super Wildcard
Weekend, but it is fair to say that their performance lacked a little gloss. Head coach Sean Payton won’t care however, so long as his team posted the W in that 21-9 win.
Alvin Kamara rushed for 99 yards in that win, while Drew Brees passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns, but in reality, it was a fine display by the Saints defense that paved the way for this success.
No individual player has been responsible for the Saints wins over the Bucs this season in particular.
Brees though has been spectacularly efficient in those games, throwing six touchdowns and no interceptions in both fixtures, despite not racking up big passing yards.
That consistent, multi-faceted offense has served New Orleans well in games with the Bucs this season, so expect to see more of backup QB Taysom Hill (pictured) in this game too, especially with Brees possibly not fully recovered from a rib injury sustained in the latter half of the season.
Bucs overcome Heinicke-inspired Washington
Any people expected Tom Brady to lead the Buccaneers to a thumping win over Washington last week. He did throw for 381 yards and two touchdowns, but arguably it was Sean Bunting’s defensive touchdown that truly turned that game in Tampa’s favour.
Washington’s Taylor Heinicke played very well in place of the injured Alex Smith and with Cam Sims rushing for 104 yards, they more than kept pace with a Bucs team expected to easily outscore them.
Key to the Bucs chances of success are Leonard Fournette offering a tangible running game (as he did with 93 yards against Washington). If the Saints need to respect Fournette, then that may give Brady the time he needs to pick off a very talented Saints secondary.
However, the Saints defense got much the better of Brady in their last game. It remains to be seen whether the GOAT will bounce back and gain revenge for that defeat here.
What do the sportsbooks think?
I have to admit to being slightly surprised to see the Saints are just the -3 favourites to win this game with DraftKings Online Sportsbook. I think that rather low-key win over Chicago last week has made bookmakers think that the Bucs may have a shout here.
An interesting bet is the Over/Under option with the line set at 51.5 and given that in both games this season, we have seen 55 and 41 points scored, and given that playoff games tend to be tighter, I think the Under bet is a good pick here.
How do we see the Bucs @ Saints playing out?
It is hard to go against the bookmakers and the evidence of past results here and I do think that the Saints are the better football team in general. However, I have a niggling feeling that Tom Brady may well be able to work his magic to keep the Bucs in this.
Any team with a six-time SuperBowl winner at QB, not to mention the array of offensive weapons available to the veteran, does make the Bucs a legitimate threat.
However, counter to that I can’t get the ease with which the Saints won in Tampa Bay out of my mind. The Saints can play a whole lot better than they did against Chicago and they are generally more consistent than the Bucs too.
The Bucs also have the pressure of knowing that it is either this season, or maybe next for this team and then that is it.
That said, I can see this being a game that may well go down to the very last play, or perhaps even overtime being required to decide the winner. I’d still take the Saints to perhaps sneak the win but if I was going to bet, I’d take the Bucs at +3 for the regulation time result.