It’s NFL Sunday once again, Hallelujah, and the Armchair QBs have taken a deeper preview into the premier game between the Buccaneers and the Saints!
The big story for this game is obviously going to be Brady and how the offence do. With the Buccaneers adding Leonard Fournette as well a lot of eyeballs are going to be on this team. I will pump the breaks here and say that we should not take too much away about either team regardless of the result, with no preseason and a truncated offseason it will take a while for offences to gel together. I expect teams that have experienced a significant amount of turnover or changes at key positions to struggle through the initial four weeks. Even with all that I will admit that the Saints are my pick to make it to the NFC championship this year so lets see how that pans out. With that being said here is what I am looking for in this game.
A lot has been made about how Brady will fair in the Bruce Arians passing offence this year, but I think he has the perfect person to help him in Mike Evans. Brady has not played with a receiver as good as Evans since he teamed up with Randy Moss all those years ago. I do not think we will see the huge numbers that they had that year, Brady just doesn’t have the arm strength anymore, but he does have a reliable number one receiver for the first time in several years.
If the Buccaneers can move Evans around and play to Brady’s strengths by giving him short to intermediate in routes and let Evans generate yards after the catch, this should be a formula for success for the Buccaneers. I also think it is how they will get the most out of Evans going forward for the season.
Brady and Brees versus time
Time eventually catches up to us all and here we have the battle between oldest active QB’s in the league, both are over 40 and showed signs of decline from previous years. My own opinion is that Brees should not play a full season as his arm just cannot take it, we saw this last year and the wildcard game really illustrates it. Brees is now more of a dink and dunk player who depends on Michael Thomas and Kamara to generate the bulk of his yardage after the catch.
Brady’s arm has not dipped quite as much as Brees, but the drop off from 2018 to 2019 was noticeable. Now some of that could be down to the fact that he lost his best target in Gronkowski and his wide receiver core was mediocre at best. He has certainly upgraded this year, and I’m intrigued by how he works with OJ Howard. I think Brady could get the best out of him, his last game as a Patriot looks like the graph above for Brees, with a few more incompletions.
As I have already mentioned, Brady has upgraded his skill positions from last year with the move to Tampa, I am not expecting the offence to be firing on all cylinders just yet but I will be watching this game closely to see if there are any clues as to how the Buccaneers offence will adapt to Brady.
The Home Field Advantage
The Super Dome will be empty on Sunday Night with crowd noise pumped in at 70 decibels which will make New Orleans sound like a Library/ The Emirates. Last year the Saints earned 25 false start penalties totalling 121 yards. Over half of those were at home, the second-most in the league. With the crowd impact neutralized, how will this affect teams like the Saints, Chiefs and Packers?
I’m taking the Saints for Week 1, as I said in the introduction I believe teams such as the Bucs who have had significant new additions during the offseason will struggle initially as the team attempts to come together and the offence takes time to find its rhythm. Therefore, I would expect the Saints, Chiefs, Ravens and 49ers to do well initially before teams start to catch up around week 4. The Saints are put in at -3.5 favourites but I would take them all the way up to -6.5 and still feel pretty confident for this week.
That just about wraps up our game preview between the Saints and the Buccaneers, give us any suggestions for things you want to see in future previews, what you think of my opinions and what you think of this game in the comments!
Look out for more previews and a huge amount of content for NFL this season from Gridiron Hub!