It’s the first week of a new NFL season and the Bucs have had the biggest off-season in team history. So, naturally, there have to be some bold predictions for the 2020 season.
Each week, each member of the Bucs Nation staff will make a bold prediction for the game while managing editor Gil Arcia chooses which one of the five is most likely to happen at the end with his editor’s pick.
First up are the Saints. Will Tom Brady throw for five touchdowns? Will Shaquil Barrett get three sacks? How many yards will Ronald Jones II run for? Will Drew Brees throw three picks?
What are some of your bold predictions for the game? Let us know in the comments below!
Bailey: Remember Week 1 of the 2018 season when the Bucs and Saints combined for 88 points? Yeah, I’m not thinking that happens this Sunday. At the time this is being published, FanDuel Sportsbook has the over/under for this season-opening matchup in New Orleans set at 49.5. With high-powered offenses led by two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, that seems reasonable.
However, my bold prediction for this game is that the two teams will combine to hit the under. I know these offenses should be pretty electric in 2020, but right off the bat in Week 1 with no real offseason and no preseason? I’m giving the edge to the defenses. I think Tampa Bay finds a way to bottle up Brees, while New Orleans’ takes advantage of what could be some early growing pains for Brady and his new mates on the Buccaneer offense.
David: If Brees plays in both games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, it’ll be the 29th and 30th times he does so. The New Orleans Saints are 18-10 up to this point against the Bucs; winning 64% of these contests while Brees has been under center. However, when he throws more than one touchdown against Tampa Bay, that percentage climbs to a staggering 81%. It falls to 42% when Brees throws one or fewer touchdowns against the Buccaneers defense. My bold prediction for Week 1 is: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense will hold Brees to zero passing touchdowns for only the second time in 29 tries.
James: David, I like that one, but I’m going to take it one step further. We all know that Michael Thomas is the slant king, right? Think Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers defense won’t be ready for that this time around? I think Brees does in fact have a touchdown pass - but it’s going to be to Devin White who cuts off a Thomas slant route, snatches the ball, and takes it to the house.
Evan: Well, it appears that the theme of these picks is defense. That’s just fine with me, because I’m sticking on the defensive side of the ball, myself.
Tampa Bay averaged around 24 pressures per game and a little more than three sacks per game in 14 games last year. But when they played the Saints, they averaged just nine pressures per game and recorded one whole sack. The Week 5 matchup in New Orleans was the only game in which the Bucs didn’t record a sack. Pro Bowl guard Andrus Peat even missed the Week 11 matchup, yet the Bucs couldn’t generate pressure on a consistent basis.
Bowles is well aware of the Bucs’ shortcomings in terms of generating pressure and he will certainly have a game plan for the Saints’ offense. The Bucs will also have a healthy White and Jason Pierre-Paul when they travel to the dome this time around, which makes a big difference.
Therefore, the Bucs get at least three sacks this weekend.
Jason: I originally wanted to go bold on defense as well, but now I feel that would be the safe route to take. I’ve got to go bold, right? The Bucs defense is the only element of their game that any of us have any true confidence in. It’s the one element of their game that hasn’t undergone major cosmetic surgery. I would say they only went through some minor physical therapy. They’ve licked their wounds from last year, which weren’t many, and these guys are coming back meaner and stronger. Especially the secondary that’s been upgraded and had a lot of one-on-one attention.
Where I’m going to be bold is not really a surprise. My bold prediction will rest solely on Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich coming out swinging in their game plan. The Bucs are starting both of the best tight ends in the league. They have two of the best wide receivers in the league. And now they have the best quarterback ever to play the game.
The last time Brady had over 400 passing yards (447) was in week 2 of the 2017 season against.......you guessed it, the New Orleans Saints. I may be way off, but I’m putting Brady on the pedestal he deserves and I’m putting him at 350 yards to make it a close contest against the reigning NFC South champs.
Editor’s Pick by Gil Arcia: I am going to go with Jason’s bold prediction here. I can see how the defense can come out and put a stop to the Saint’s defense, but I can also see how it can go the other way. I don’t put anything past Brady and the way his mind can dissect an opposing defense. Because of that, I feel Brady throwing for over 350 yards is the bold prediction of the week.