The time has come. Finally, a real game is set to be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday. The off-season dragged on forever in 2018. Also, the buildup to this 2018 NFL season is colossal. The New Orleans Saints are a monster favorite, to beat up on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Nevertheless, this game won’t be easy. Not to mention, the Buccaneers are also an NFC South divisional opponent.
NFL Week 1: The Saints Better Not Take the Desperate Bucs Lightly
To begin with, there is no Jameis Winston this week. Winston is suspended for the first three games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. That’s a whole different story. Now, The Saints’ defense get a chance to wreak havoc on a Harvard grad. That’s right! Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to start Sunday against the Saints, in the most anticipated season opener in a long time.
Fitzpatrick leads a team that is looking for anything. Any type of motivation to breed some faith in the Buccaneers. To put it differently, the Bucs are desperate, and the Saints better be ready come Sunday. The Buccaneers are well known to play the Saints tough. Matter of fact, the last six games have been split at three games apiece. Forget about the point spread on this one. This game is surely going to the end of the wire.
The Buccaneers have Glimpses of Hope
Surprisingly, there were some positives last year for the 5-11 Buccaneers. The Bucs had a top 10 offense for yards per game. Additionally, they ranked fourth in passing yards too. One can make a case that many of those yards came in garbage time. But still, there was some promise on offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Buccaneers were atrocious. Just about every single category put Tampa Bay at the bottom of the pack. One other stat that was a bit of a surprise, was the takeaways the Bucs had last year. The Bucs had 26 takeaways, that topped what the Saints had in 2017. The only problem was the 27 giveaways. The turnover ratio for the year was a -1.
At the same time, the Buccaneers had four games lost by a total of 12 points. Also, three more losses totalled 16 points. And one of those games went into overtime against the Green Bay Packers on Lambeau Field. Still, the thought by many is that this game is going to be a cupcake beginning.
That would be a huge mistake. Surely, Sean Payton has made it clear to his players that this game is no joke. Nothing is certain in the NFL. Did anyone really pick the Rams, Eagles, or Vikings last year to be on top of the NFC? To take that further, few picked the Saints above 8-8 either.
Players to Watch Out for on the Buc’s Offense
The Buccaneers have some players that are close to breaking out this season. Tight end O.J. Howard is one of them. Howard was drafted in the first round out of Alabama, and he’s looking to make a name for himself. Standing at 6-foot-6 and almost 250 pounds makes for a nice target. Look for Tampa Bay to target Howard early.
Also, there’s a kickoff returner by the name of Jacquizz Rodgers that is way overdue. Rogers is only 5-foot-6 but can straight out fly. Whatever team wins the special teams battle should win the game.
One thing’s for sure. Kickoff is slated for noon. Fans are gonna scream in deafening tones. The Saints need to take care of business.