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Last week football fans got to watch Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady break an NFL record by passing the most touchdowns ever in NFL history (602) and his Bucs are firing on all cylinders under head coach Bruce Arian’s game plan, and this week against this solid Saints defense Tampa Bay could see the return of future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The 4-2 New Orleans Saints’ defense looks relentless against both the run and the pass as they earned a Week 7 Monday Night Football win over the Seahawks in Seattle, but quarterback Jameis Winston must evolve beyond his current role as the cautious ball distributor though he could use some help from his wide receivers who seem to be struggling to pull in the long balls.
These two AFC South rivals played each other 59 previous times (including 1 postseason game), with the New Orleans Saints winning 37 of those games and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning 22 of the games.
One flaw of this excellent Buccaneers team is their rushing attack, right now ranked 21st in the league after averaging 99 yards on the ground per game, a part of their offense that, if improved, could help sell quarterback Tom Brady’s play-action fakes in the second half.
The three main running backs for Tampa are Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, and Giovani Bernard, three relatively young players who have the size and speed to put up better numbers than what they have in the first seven weeks of the regular season.
The Bucs had an even more subpar rushing attack last season (ranked 28th) and yet they won the Super Bowl and gave the GOAT yet another ring but watch for those three to go head to head against the Saints run defense that is currently fourth-best in the league.
This game forces Saints quarterback Jameis Winston to battle his old Bucs team that won a Super Bowl once he was gone, so there will most likely be a high level of anticipation in Winston as he continues to grow as a more selective passer.
Now Winston is more accurate on his check-down passes and he does not seem as desperate to force the big plays instead of throwing the ball away, and the fact that he has only tossed three interceptions on the season says a lot about how his game has grown.
Where Winston could use the most help is from his receivers who seem to struggle to complete well-thrown big passes that literally hit their outstretched hands, so facing a 23rd ranked Buccaneers pass defense on Sunday could be the perfect time for this group to improve.
The Buccaneers’ offense has not seen star tight end Rob Gronkowski ever since he suffered a rib injury in Tampa Bay’s Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, but it looks like that could change on Sunday, at least that’s according to head coach Bruce Arians.
Arians told the media earl in the week that he is “hopeful” that Gronk will be able to suit up for this one, the hard blocking pass-catching tight end a powerful addition to a Tampa Bay offense that is ranked second-best in the NFL.
Gronkowski is a 6’ 6” 265 pound-force of nature who can get open on the run as well as in perfect spots against zone coverage, already with four touchdowns in the three games in which he’s played this season, an unstoppable force in the red zone that Brady is sure to find often.
One of the biggest factors in the Saints Monday Night Football win in Week 7 against the Seahawks was dual-threat running back Alvin Kamara who proved deadly with his legs and hands, a speedy player that is almost impossible to cover.
This season Kamara has carried the ball 114 times for 419 yards and a touchdown while also catching 25 balls for another 241 yards and 4 touchdowns, a guy who can kill you out of the backfield just as easily as he can running precise routes like a receiver.
To beat the Buccaneers, Saints QB Jameis Winston and his receivers must connect, but they will get open more often if Kamara has a big game and begins to draw double teams that open up the rest of the field for the team’s other playmakers, including newly (re)acquired running back Mark Ingram.
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|Buccaneers vs Saints Information
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
|Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana
|Sunday, October 31, 2021; 4:25 PM ET
|How to watch
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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