After a tough loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now turning their attention to NFC South rival New Orleans Saints as the two teams battle it out for first place in the division - and they’ll be facing a familiar foe.
Saints quarterback Derek Carr is dealing with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and while he hasn’t officially been ruled out yet, all signs point to Jameis Winston getting the start against his former team. The last time Winston started a game against the Bucs, things didn’t go so well for the Saints. The Bucs won the turnover battle 5-1 as Winston had three interceptions and a fumble.
This time around, the big question surrounding the Saints is the offensive line. Before his injury, Carr had an average of just 2.2 seconds in the pocket, had been pressured on 23.2% of dropbacks, and had been sacked 11 times. For a blitz happy coach like Todd Bowles - who has seen his defense blitz more on third down than any other team in the league - this is an opportunity for the Bucs to get Winston under duress and goat him into some bad decisions.
The Bucs are second in the NFL in turnover differential with +5, second only to the Dallas Cowboys who are at +6. This week, the defense is going up against the NFL’s 15th ranked passing offense (221.3 yards per game), 21st ranked rushing offense (93.3 yards per game), and 25th ranked scoring offense (17.7 points per game). The Bucs defense is 24th against the pass (256 yards per game), 12th against the run (103 yards per game - thanks in large part to the 201 yards allowed to the Eagles), and 11th in scoring (19.7 points per game).
New Orleans hasn’t exactly been friendly to the Bucs over the years. While the Saints lead the all time series 39-24, the Saints are 21-14 at home. That said, the Bucs have won three of the last five dating back to the Divisional Round win en route to their Super Bowl LV Championship, sweeping last year’s series. Prior to that Divisional Round loss, the Saints rattled off five wins in a row and fifteen of the last nineteen since 2011. Yes, most of those matchups were Drew Brees against the likes of Josh Freeman, Mike Glennon, Josh McCown, and Jameis Winston - but still a painful stretch for Bucs fans.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Saints are 3.5-point favorites with an over/under of 39.5. The Saints have a streak of nine straight games hitting the under and eight straight divisional wins in the month of October. Meanwhile, the Bucs have failed to cover the spread in six of their last seven road games.
The Bucs and Saints will kickoff at 1:00 p.m. ET at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. The game will be broadcast on FOX with Chris Myers and Robert Smith on the call.