5 Reasons Why The Saints Will Win/Lose On Saturday
The New Orleans Saints return to action on Saturday, and it’s time to take a look at five reasons why they will win, and five reasons why they will lose.
The Saints, who are currently 6-8 on the year, will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFC South showdown.
Kickoff time is scheduled for 3:25 pm in a game that will serve as the Saints' 2016 home finale.
5 Reasons The Saints Will Win:
1)—Drew Brees: Brees leads the NFL in passing yards-per-game, averaging 326.0, and is coming off a game against the Arizona Cardinals in which he threw for 389 yards and four touchdowns. Brees struggled in his first game against the Bucs, getting picked off three times. Why is that a good thing? Because it probably won’t happen again. Sure, Tampa Bay is in second place in the NFC North, and they have a solid defense, but they do have to face Brees, who is having his best season since 2011. He’s likely to bounce back, playing at home, and indoors, where he's normally outstanding.
2)—Cameron Jordan: He should have been named to the Pro Bowl earlier this week. Jordan is tied for the NFL lead with 16 tackles for loss and ranks in the top 10 with 21 quarterback hits and five batted passes. His problem is he only has 6.5 sacks. His versatility is to his detriment. Jordan is a greatly underrated/underappreciated player. He played well in the first meeting, and was a big reason the Bucs really struggled, offensively, against the New Orleans defense in the second half. Look for Jordan to be his normally reliable self.
3)—Saints Have A Better Rushing Attack: The Saints are averaging 106.2 rushing yards-per-game, which ranks 17th in the league, while the Buccaneers are averaging 101.1, which ranks 21st. That might not sound like a huge disparity, but if we look closer, we see that the Saints are averaging 4.2 yards-per-carry, compared to only 3.5 yards-per-carry for the Bucs, which is a pretty big difference. You would figured that Saints are going to pass for more yards than the Bucs, so if they are able to run the ball better as well, it stands to reason that they’ll have a pretty good shot at winning the game. Granted, the Saints only gained 48 rushing yards in the first meeting, but they've been the better rushing team over the large sample size.
4)—Third Down Efficiency: New Orleans is tops in the league, converting on 49.5 of their third down conversions. Now, Tampa Bay is ranked second, as opponents are only converting on 34.5 of their third down attempts, and held the Saints to only 4-of-13 on third down attempts two weeks ago, which is why they won. I don't see that happening again. The Saints have been really good all year, in terms of keeping drives going, and I them to be good again on Saturday.
5)—History On Saints' Side: The Saints have not gotten swept in the annual series by the Bucs since 2007, and a loss would mean the Saints would finish with a losing record at home. That was the case in 2014, when they went 3-5 at the Superdome. Is it really possible for them to finish with a losing record at home for the second time is the last three season, after going unbeaten at home in 2013? Possible? Yes. Likely? No.
5 Reason the Saints Won’t Win:
1)—Jameis Winston: He still has the tendency to try to force the ball, but he’s elevated his game this season, completing 61% of his passes for 3,611 and 22 touchdowns. Winston has become a team leader, and really played well over the Bucs' recent 5-game win streak, in which he completed about 63% of his passes, while throwing for 1,327 yards, to go along with 6 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions, prior to Tampa Bay's loss to Dallas last week. If Winston plays well, something he's done a lot of this year, the Bucs have a good chance at winning.
2)—Chances Are The Game Will Come Down To One Score: Okay, New Orleans has played 14 games so far this season, and 10 have been decided by 7 points or less. The Saints are good enough to hang in there with almost anybody, but not good enough to blow out most teams. Meanwhile, 8 of the 14 games that the Bucs have played this season has been decided by a touchdown or less. Last season, each team won a game against the other, by 7 points, and the Bucs won the first meeting this year, by only 5 points. Chances are, this game is going to be decided by 7 points, or less, and that makes it anybody’s ballgame.
3)—Cameron Brate: Sure, Mike Evans is Tampa Bay’s go-to receiver, but Brate might actually more of a concern. The Saints have had their issues with receiving tight ends over the years, and Brate is a good one, who is having a career-year, compiling 56 catches for 648 yards and 7 touchdowns. Brate had 4 receptions for 47 yards in the first meeting, and they'll have to hold him to similar numbers to win on Saturday. Evans can have a good day and the Saints can still win. But if Evans and Brate both put up good numbers, then it could be trouble. Brate, by the way, was on the Saints' practice squad at the start of 2015.
4)—Buccaneers Are Hot: Tampa Bay has won 5 of their last 6, and 7 of their last 9. They're on a rolI, playing with a lot of confidence, and chasing a possible NFC south division title. They've also been very good on the road this season, sporting a 5-2 record. They did los to the Cowboys last week, but chances are, they’re going to play well, so the Saints can ill-afford to play only mediocre.
5)—Special Teams: This one isn’t hard to figure out; the Saints rank 31st (16.5) in terms of yards-per-kickoff return, while allowing the 6th-most in the league (23.5). The Saints have been bad on special teams all year, and have arguably lost three games this season. Sunday’s game will like be close, and special teams could be the difference. If it is, the Saints could be in trouble.