NFC Divisional Round: Buccaneers vs Saints Preview
Buccaneers vs Saints Preview: NFC South foes, Tampa Bay and New Orleans, will meet for the third time this season on Sunday in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. The winner will advance to next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. New Orleans took down Tampa Bay both times during the regular season, but this contest has all the makings of being a playoff classic inside the Super Dome.
The Saints will be a three-point home favorite on Sunday. The Saints are -170 to win and the Buccaneers are +150. The over/under for the contest has been set at 52 points.
Buccaneers vs Saints Preview | Brady and the Buccaneers
Tom Brady hasn’t showed too many signs of aging with his new team this season. Brady has had some bad performances over the course of sixteen games this year, but these outings have been minimal.
Brady has thrown for over 4,600 yards this season with 40 touchdowns. Although, two of his worst performances this year came against New Orleans. Putting this aside, I guarantee Tom Brady will be ready to put on a show on Sunday. Playoff Brady is why the 43-year-old is nicknamed the GOAT.
The Buccaneers are on a five-game win streak following their 31-23 win over the Washington Football Team. Tampa Bay racked up 507 yards of total offense against Washington. Defensively, Tampa Bay ranked in the top ten throughout the regular season.
Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Devin White have terrorized opposing offenses all season long. The Tampa Bay defense will have to play a critical role on Sunday for the team to punch their ticket to the NFC Championship Game.
Buccaneers vs Saints Preview | Brees and the Saints
New Orleans won the NFC South this year at 12-4. The team’s two regular season victories over Tampa Bay allowed them to capture the division crown. The Saints are on a three-game win streak. In the Wild Card Round, New Orleans outlasted the Chicago Bears by a score of 21-9.
Drew Brees entered the league in 2001 and he is still playing at an elite level. Brees suffered a broken rib in November, but he’s now back to full strength. Against Chicago, Brees completed 28 of 39 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
Alvin Kamara is the do all athlete for the Saints. The running back leads the team in rushing and receiving yards. Kamara has scored 21 total touchdowns this season. If the Buccaneers don’t key in on Kamara, the former Tennessee Volunteer will make them pay.
Against Minnesota on Christmas Day, Kamara found the endzone six times in a 155-yard rushing effort. New Orleans isn’t just an offensive juggernaut. They’re also ruthless on defense. Cameron Jordan, Malcolm Jenkins, and Janoris Jenkins are three of the veterans that lead the entire Saints defense.
Buccaneers vs Saints Preview | The Matchup
The Buccaneers must stop Alvin Kamara on Sunday. They can’t allow the running back to beat them on the ground or through the air. Tampa Bay has the best rushing defense in the game of football. They must uphold this reputation so the Buccaneers offense can maintain their identity and control the time of possession.
If the Saints offensive line can open up some holes, New Orleans chances of winning will rise exponentially. Kamara doesn’t need much room to work with to be successful. Tampa Bay has an average passing defense, so they’ll need to tighten up their holes in the secondary.
If the Buccaneers must bring extra defenders into the box to shut down Kamara, Brees could have a massive night. Tampa Bay needs to limit New Orleans’ rushing attack without leaving their secondary out to dry.
If New Orleans can effectively run the football, they’ll win the game. I expect Tom Brady to be his usual playoff self. Great competitors consistently show up with the season on the line. Brady will be spectacular on Sunday and avenge his two bad performances against New Orleans earlier in the season.
So, who will advance to the NFC Championship?
I believe Tom Brady and the Buccaneers will prevail on Sunday. Tampa Bay is hot right now and they haven’t shown any signs of cooling off. The Buccaneers will shut down Alvin Kamara. Drew Brees will have a decent day, but it won’t be enough to advance to the NFC Championship Game.
FINAL: Buccaneers 31 Saints 24