Well, here we are. Part 3 of the Buccaneers and Saints only this time the winner advances to take on the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field for the NFC Championship. But before Tampa Bay and New Orleans hit the field, let’s take a stab at some bold predictions for the Divisional Round.
David: Mike Evans and Ronald Jones II will out stat Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
Jason: The key to a Buccaneers victory over their nemesis, the New Orleans Saints, is to win the turnover battle. Tom Brady threw for five interceptions in their prior two engagements this season. If Brady can keep the ball out of the Saints’ hands, they have a real opportunity to head to their first NFC Conference Championship in 18 years! Going bold here, but I’m saying Brady will have ZERO interceptions on Sunday.
James: We all remember what happened last time the Bucs and Saints faced off. However, the Bucs were without Ali Marpet and it was Antonio Brown's first game with the team. Now, Brown has become far more acclimated to and a much bigger part of the offense as well as being in football shape. That said, the Saints will focus on shutting down Mike Evans, something they've had success with more often than not, and it will open the door for AB to pick up the slack. My bold prediction is that AB finishes as the Bucs leading receiver, hitting 120+ yards and adding two scores in the process.
Evan: The Bucs have just three forced turnovers and three sacks in the last four games against the Saints. They’ll even things out this week by forcing three turnovers and sacking Drew Brees at least three times.
Bailey: A lot of this game will come down to the ability of Tampa Bay’s offensive line to keep Tom Brady clean. That’s not something that the Bucs did in either game against New Orleans this season. In Week 1’s 34-23 loss, they allowed three sacks and seven quarterback hits. Then, with Ali Marpet missing for Week 9’s 38-3 loss, Tampa Bay gave up three sacks and nine quarterback hits. That’s not great! But hey, let’s go bold with the offensive line for this Sunday. The unit has been playing well and while it will have to adjust with Aaron Stinnie subbing in for the injured Alex Cappa at right guard, I think things go well this time around. So, let’s see the o-line play a phenomenal game, allowing no sacks and three or fewer quarterback hits. And while my official prediction may have been a Saints win, the Bucs getting such a performance from their offensive line may just help them do enough to get to next week’s NFC Championship Game.
Editor’s Pick by Gil Arcia: The Buccaneers have had a shaky defense against opposing offenses at times throughout the season, and in last week’s Wild Card game against Washington was no different. I’m not confident enough to say Tampa Bay’s defense will have things fixed against a team that has gotten the better of them already this season not once, but twice, and tend to play scared against Drew Brees by trying to keep everything in front of them and let him carve them up.
Brees is the defense’s daddy.
With that said, I can’t go with David’s prediction because Kamara may unfortunately post a better stat line than Evans, Jones, and Thomas combined. I also can’t go with Evan for the reasons I stated previously. That leaves three others that are focused on the Buccaneers’ offensive side of the ball. So for the Divisional Round against the Saints, I’m picking James’ prediction of Brown getting two scores and 120-plus yards receiving.
Which bold prediction do you like best for this Divisional Round matchup?
This poll is closed
Evans/RoJo outplay Thomas/Kamara
Brady throws 0 INTs
AB is TB’s leading receiver
Bucs force 3 TOs & get 3 sacks
O-line keeps Brady off the turf