To preview the game, we spoke with Luke Hubbard of Canal Street Chronicles to give us a bit more insight on what to expect from New Orleans in this one.
1. What are your overall thoughts on the Saints season thus far?
It’s been a rollercoaster. Through two weeks, I felt like we could beat anybody just because of our defense, and then last week happened and it felt like our whole team went out when Carr got hurt. I still believe the New Orleans Saints can go out and beat any team when our defense plays their A game, but we need Carr on the field. Even though he hasn’t played amazing, he’s made big throws when we needed them most, and that’s something we haven’t had since Brees left. Luckily, Carr’s injury was minor, but man, when they said he was going to the hospital for potential internal injuries, I thought the season was over. We got lucky, but our offensive line has to improve if we want any chance at going far this year.
2. With Derek Carr most likely out and Jameis Winston slated to start against his old team, what are your expectations for the New Orleans offense?
I’m not getting my hopes up at all with Winston at QB. He’s played solid for us in the past, but he seems to always turn the ball over in crucial situations, so even if we’re up by 14 late, my expectation will be that we’re going to lose. I love Winston as a locker room guy, but I don’t necessarily trust him to be QB1 as I’m sure you Bucs fans can understand.
I still think there are opportunities for this offense to be explosive. My favorite saying is “Jameis has never seen a go route he didn’t like,” so if they send Olave or Shaheed deep, be ready because he will not hesitate to chuck that thing. Kamara coming back also adds a new element to our offense, but in the past, Jameis hasn’t liked to throw him the ball as much as he should. If Winston and Carmichael can learn to utilize him in the pass game this week, we have a good chance to have a decent offensive performance, but again, I’m not counting on our offense winning us this game.
3. Through three games, what would you say is the Saints biggest strength and weakness so far?
Our biggest strength is easily our corners. We have the top three CBs in terms of passes defended so far this season with Marshon Lattimore, Alontae Taylor and Isaac Yiadom. As we all know, Lattimore brings his A game every time he lines up with Mike Evans, and I don’t think that stops on Sunday, so I think our secondary will continue to be our strength this week.
As for our biggest weakness, it’s definitely our offensive line. Through 11 quarters, Derek Carr was sacked 11 times. That is not a recipe for success, and I don’t think that number will change with Jameis in. The worst part about it is you never know who’s going to have a bad game. All five of our guys up front have had at least one game they played well and at least one game where they were terrible. It would help if we knew there were one or two guys who need to improve, but right now, everyone needs to get better and be much more consistent than they have been so far.
4. Which matchup this week would you consider an x-factor in deciding who wins this contest?
I think everyone knows where I’m going with this....I think it’s obviously Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore. Those two go at it every single game, and I’m lucky enough to say my guy wins most of the time (don’t hate me Bucs fans). I’m not too big to admit that Evans has bested Lattimore on a few plays in the last few meetings, but I think Lattimore will get the best of Evans again this weekend. If he can erase Evans from the game like he’s done so many times before, I think our defense has a very good chance of limiting y’all’s offense.
If I had to go another route, I’d say our O-line vs. your D-line. As you heard my tangent about it in the last question. Our offensive line is straight up bad right now. Combine that with the Bucs nine sacks on the year, and y’all could be in for a big day sacking the QB. If Winston gets sacked 4-5 times, our offense hasn’t shown that they can overcome third-and-long situations well enough to succeed to this point in the year.
5. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Saints are three-point home favorites. What do you think happens in this game and do the Bucs cover?
It all boils down to Jameis Winston. The Saints defense has proven that we only need to score 20 points to win a game. They’ve held 12 straight opponents to less than 20 points, the only problem is, can we score 20 points?
I think it’s definitely a possibility. If the defense can make some big plays and cause a turnover or two and get the offense the ball in plus territory, I think we can escape with a win, but I think the Bucs will cover or push the three-point spread. Divisional games are tough and now that the Bucs don’t have Tom Brady sucking every game against the Saints, I think it’ll be a very close game.
Thanks so much to Luke from Canal Street Chronicles for doing this!