The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to New Orleans to face the Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana as Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season continues on Sunday, September 9, 2018.

Playing Without Their Starting Quarterback

After a tough season where they finished just 5-11, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to turn things around this season. However, they may have to do it without their starting quarterback calling the plays to start the season as Jameis Winston is currently on a three game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

In the place of Winston, it will be Ryan Fitzpatrick who will get the start on Sunday for Tampa Bay. Fitzpatrick played in just 6 games last season at completed only 58.9% of his passes for a total of 1,103 yards with 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Fitzpatrick has been known to be inconsistent throughout his career and he will have to take good care of the ball if the Bus want a shot at beating the Saints on Sunday.

Tampa Bay lost Doug Martin but drafted running back Ronald Jones with the 2nd pick and the guy can be a star in the league. As for defense, the Bucs used three of their first four picks on this side of the floor with 12th pick DL Vita Vea the most notable one. With the addition of Jason Pierre-Paul from the New York Giants, Tampa Bay’s defense will be better this season. Whether it’s good enough to remove them from the bottom of the NFC South though is another story.

The Bucs ranked 4th in the league in passing last season, 9th in total offense but only 18th in scoring and 27th in running. On defense, they allowed the most yards per game in the NFL and were last against the pass. They were also only 23rd versus the run and the 24th in the league in points allowed.

What’re the Odds?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints 9/9/18
Odds: Buccaneers +355, Saints -425
Odds from as of September 4, 2018

Looking To Bounce Back

The New Orleans Saints have some unfinished business this season. They went 11-5 last season and won the NFC South Division. However, a last-second score by the Minnesota Vikings ended their postseason early. This season, the Saints look to bounce back, build on last year’s success and make a run at the Super Bowl this season.

39-year-old Drew Brees will return to call the plays for the Saints and as a precautionary measure, New Orleans’ top play caller was fielded in just one preseason game. Brees looked sharp in limited time, converting 7 out of nine passes for 59 yards but threw one interception. Well rested, Brees should be ready to go on Sunday.

New Orleans had one of the best offenses in the league last season, thanks mainly to their two-headed monster on the ground. Alvin Kamara ran for 728 yards with 8 scores while also catching 803 yards on the air and scoring 5 receiving touchdowns. Mark Ingram also had a great season with 1124 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. However, Ingram won’t be playing in this game as he is currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-doping policy.

The Saints ranked 2nd last season in total offense, 4th in scoring at 28.0 points per game and fifth in both passing and running. They weren’t as good on the other end though as they ranked only 15th against the pass, 16 against the run and 17th in total yards allowed.

Who Wins?

The New Orleans Saints are 13-5 in their last 18 games against teams from the NFC South and are 12-4 straight up in their last 16 games, including 5-0 in their last five home games. Against the Buccaneers, they have won 10 out of the last 13 including 6 of the last 7 games at home. On the other hand, the Bucs are 1-5 straight up in their last six games and an even worse 1-9 straight up in their last 10 games away from home.

Tampa Bay is 4-10 in their last 14 September games while the Saints are 4-0 in their last four September games. The Buccaneers have also won just 3 of their last 11 Week 1 games and 3-8 in their last 11 games against teams from the NFC. The trends aren’t really pointing to an upset here.

The consensus among many NFL experts is that the New Orleans Saints are going to hammer out some early wins by pounding it on the ground and running the football. Given their weapons, they most certainly have the capability to do that. The Bucs are also without Winston and that should be a blow to their offense.

Betting Prediction

These teams split their last two meetings last season but the Saints won 30-12 in the game that was played at their homefield. New Orleans is looking to bounce back after a disappointing finish to their 2017 campaign. They have been solid at home and the Bucs have struggled on the road.

We’re picking the New Orleans Saints to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on 9/8/18.

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