A fantastic NFC South battle will take place in Tampa Bay Sunday night as the Saints and Buccaneers square off. Each team has been playing some fantastic football thus far. Drew Brees is continuing to put up good numbers despite having limited weapons in his arsenal, while Tom Brady keeps opposing defenses guessing week after week.
The Saints will get Michael Thomas back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines. His return is big news for a team that doesn’t have too much receiver depth behind him. Thanks in large part to Alvin Kamara, the victories have continued to come in. They picked up a win against Tampa Bay in Week 1 and will now hope to do it again.
The Bucs are already as dangerous as any other team in the NFL. Now, they’ll have Antonio Brown on the field for the first time with his new team. All signs point to Brown being in good shape, ready to catch passes from Brady once more. When you consider Brown is entering a team with Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans, an already potent offense looks to be even more dominant.
The spread for the primetime showdown favors Tampa Bay by 4.5 points. The over/under is set at 50.5.
Saints Looking to Keep the Division Race Close
This win is critical for the Saints as they hope to take the lead in the NFC South. They defeated the Bucs in their first meeting and will hope to make it two in a row against their rivals. In the two-horse race within the division, this game will carry a lot of weight.
Thomas’ return will take some pressure off of Kamara and could open up greater success in both the pass and run games. In Thomas’ absence, Kamara was putting up historic reception numbers from the running back position. Kamara leads all running backs with 556 receiving yards; more than double the total of the second-highest running back, Mike Davis, with 244.
Bucs Chasing Down a No. 1 Seed
With six wins in eight games, it’s safe to say that the Tom Brady experiment has been a major success thus far. He’s built an excellent rapport with all of his receivers. Fourteen different Bucs have caught at least two passes from Brady this season.
Tampa Bay isn’t a one-dimensional group, either. Ronald Jones II is tied for fifth in the league in rushing yards with 529. Leonard Fournette has missed playing time but provides another option out of the backfield and is always capable of breaking off a big run.
The Bucs’ defense is fantastic. Jason Pierre-Paul and Devin White lead the pass rush, combining for 11.5 sacks. The two of them are consistently pressuring opposing quarterbacks, bettering the field position for the offense.
Tampa Bay can’t afford to be turning the ball over against a Saints team that generally capitalizes on those types of mistakes. Taking care of the football is crucial for a Buccaneers win. They are currently half a game behind the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC.
Bucs Win Again
Even with Thomas back for New Orleans, Tampa Bay’s defense is too good for New Orleans to keep up. Brady and the Bucs win the battle of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks and push their record to 7-2.
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