Week One: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints: 1:00 (FOX)
While the Saints have the advantage of not having to go against Jameis Winston the Buccaneers gained a slight edge as well this offseason. Starting running back Mark Ingram has been suspended for the first four games of the year due to PEDs. The two-headed monster on the backfield will only be one.
While the one is still the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year winner Alvin Kamara, it’s definitely helpful that the Buccaneers don’t have to go against both him and Ingram. The Saints have recently signed Shane Vereen to help in the backfield but he is more of a pass catcher than the power Ingram provides.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The most important aspect of the game for the Buccaneers is to stop Drew Brees. The thorn in the side of the Buccaneers has been a huge pain since joining the team in 2006.
In 25 games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brees has averaged 280 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception per game. The most impressive stat may be that he has completed over 67 percent of his passes against the Bucs. He also is 16-9 against them but the Bucs have been able to split the season series the past three seasons.
The Buccaneers haven’t won in New Orleans since 2009. That win came in a week 16 game where the Bucs won 20-17 in overtime on a Connor Barth 47- yard field goal. The Saints were 14-point favorites in that game which made that win even sweeter. However that was then and this is now, and the Buccaneers need to get wins if their staff wants to keep their jobs.
If the Buccaneers want to win this game they have to contain Brees. In games where the Buccaneers have three or more sacks against Drew Brees, they are 3-1.
The new and improved defensive line should be fully healthy and ready to go against the Saints offense. If they can get after Brees and make him uncomfortable the Bucs could have a good shot at winning. They still would have to put up some points because it’s an impossible task to shut down the future Hall of Famer.