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The Saints defense has dominated the Bucs offense the last two seasons and comes into tonight very healthy and in a scenario where they should be able to hold down the fort for a while. Their challenge however is that the offense continues to have too many early game 3 and outs and thus it could lead to the Bucs getting the field position advantage which they have not had in the prior meetings that New Orleans won. The one game the Bucs did win in the playoffs last year was done through Tampa managing to get into 3rd and short situations where they could either pick it up with Fournette or have Brady convert a quick short pass to move the chains. The other thing that happened in that game was the Saints going full shoot themselves in the dick mode with turnovers.
New Orleans cannot afford either of those scenarios tonight when they will be without their HC Sean Payton, which is a big deal in the sense of his leadership and in game strategy. But the defense will still be led by Dennis Allen and OC Pete Carmichael has shown to be a very good in game play caller. But this is an offense going through Taysom Hill and not Drew Brees obviously and that could be an adjustment scenario for Carmichael.
Health wise, both teams have avoided major COVID issues outside of Payton and the most notable player for showdown who is IN/OUT is Adam Trautman returning for the Saints. TE have done well vs Tampa and in every game these teams play the TE for New Orleans are relied upon heavily. The Saints are also going to be without both starting OT and we should expect them to run lots of heavy personnel.
An interesting angle on this game is through the RB. Both defenses statistically have been among the best against the run the last few seasons but both have been middle of the road over the last month.
WR Chris Godwin (TB)
Picking a Tampa Bay captain tonight is extremely rough. I do believe that Fournette is going to be the primary RB but they also have zero reason to run him into the ground. Mike Evans might score a 2 yard touchdown vs Marshon Lattimore but there is more than enough history here to cement that Lattimore will lock him down most of the game. Godwin should not repeat his big performance in their prior meeting this season but they do manage to get him open over the middle a good amount and on crossing routes he should have 7 for 75 yards fairly easily.
RB Alvin Kamara (NO)
If the Saints dont let Kamara touch the ball the most tonight I would be shocked. But don’t assume he will get it 30+ times or anything, however his ability to score inside the red zone has to be one of the primary weapons for New Orleans and with Mark Ingram back he should be utilized more in the passing game this week.
Taysom Hill (NO)
Players outside of the Captain Plays mentioned above…
Leonard Fournette – Bucs
Mark Ingram – Saints … Consider Ingram RB1 and Kamara WR1 for New Orleans today. Ingram got a week off due to covid protocols which is actually good for his aging legs and I expect him to have a productive game on the ground and score a touchdown. You can play him AND Kamara together but I would not play both with Taysom.
Tom Brady – Bucs … It’s hard to ignore playing both QB in a game which is going to be low scoring. You might think that sounds odd, but both teams are going to spread the ball around so much that the QB wind up having the best floor plays here.
Tre’Quan Smith – Saints … Saints vs Bucs means Tre’Quan Smith anytime TD prop bet is here. However I am not as bullish on Tre’Quan in this game as I have been in previous meetings with these teams, but he should still be in consideration for multi-lineup players.
Adam Trautman – Saints … They will need a big game from their TE to stay in this game.
Rob Gronkowski (TB) … Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins missed practice on Friday for unknown reasons. He is expected to play but if for some reason he is OUT then Gronk could have a big game. If Jenkins is IN then look at Cameron Brate as a nice anytime TD pick.
Both Defenses are in play.
Easop Winston Jr – Saints … Winston is returning punts for the Saints and probably gets a couple bomb calls in this game as a WR. He most certainly has 0 point potential but the Saints usually rely heavily on Deonte Harris against Tampa and Harris continues to serve a suspension so they will be down him in this game.
Jaelon Darden – Bucs … Speed kills Saints
Mark Ingram anytime touchdown +330
Cameron Brate anytime touchdown +550
Taysom Hill longest rush OVER 14.5 yards