Five Reasons Why The Saints Will Win/Lose On Sunday
The New Orleans Saints return to action this Sunday, 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 5-7 on the year, will be on the road to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFC South showdown.
Kickoff time is scheduled for 3:25 pm.
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 Detroit Lions in which he struggled, throwing 3 interceptions. Why is that a good thing? Because it probably won't happen again. Sure, Tampa Bay is tied for first 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 and have a good game on Sunday.
2)—Tampa Bay Has Won 4 Straight: Wait...what? Shouldn't this be a reason why the Bucs will win? Yes, and it will be as well. But due to the fact that because they've won 4-straight, the odds are against them. It's a league of parity, and anytime you win three or more games, consecutively, you're simply due to lose. Sure, there are exceptions. The Cowboys have won 11-straight, after all. Just understand that every time the Bucs take the field, the odds can catch up with them. How rare is it for them to win 5 straight? The last time Tampa Bay won five games in a row was in 2002, the same season they defeated the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. Also, keep in mind that the Saints played poorly last week, which means it's unlikely that they will play that way again.
3)—Saints Have A Better Rushing Attack: The Saints are averaging 109.3 rushing yards-per-game, which ranks 12th in the league, while the Buccaneers are averaging 104.9, which ranks 17th. That might not sound like a huge disparity, but if we look closer, we see that the Saints are averaging 4.3 yards-per-carry, compared to only 3.6 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.
4)—Third Down Efficiency: New Orleans is tops in the league, converting on 49.7 of their third down conversions. Even last week, in their week outing of the year, the Saints still converted on 6-of-13 third down attempts against Detroit. Now, Tampa Bay is ranked third, as opponents are only converting on 34.5 of their third down attempts, but the Saints have been really good all year, in terms of keeping drives going, and I don't think that is going to change on Sunday.
5)—Saint Are Getting Healthier: Sheldon Rankins, who missed the first 8 games of the year, has been impressive in his first four games, while Delvin Breaux, who missed 7 games earlier in the season, is looking solid right now. Yeah, the Saints are still hobbling, specifically on the offensive line and at tight end, but having your first round draft choice, along with your top cover cornerback available for what we hope are the final 4 games of the season is certainly a plus.
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 62% of his passes for 3,180 and 23 touchdowns. Winston has become a team leader, and has really played well over his last 4 games, which is a big part of the reason why the Bucs won every one. Over his last 4 outings, Winston has completed about 65% of his passes, while throwing for 1,143 yards, to go along with 6 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. If Winston plays well again, the Bucs have a good chance at winning.
2)—Chances Are The Game Will Come Down To One Score: Okay, New Orleans has played 12 games so far this season, and 8 have been decided by 6 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, 6 of the 12 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. 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 47 catches for 528 yards and 6 touchdowns. Brate has been a key part of the Buccaneers' success of late, with 19 receptions during their 4-game win streak. 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.
4)—Buccaneers Are Hot: I told you we'd get to this. Tampa Bay has won four-straight, and 6 of their last 8. I mentioned above that the fact that the Bucs have won 4-straight could work against them, and it could. But you also can't discard the fact they're on a roll right now, and will be difficult to beat. Tampa Bay is playing playing at a high level, and with a lot of confidence. 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 (16.1) in terms of yards-per-kickoff return, while allowing the 6th-most in the league (24.3). The Saints have been bad on special teams all year, and have arguably lost three games this season, including two of their last three losses, specifically due to special teams. Sunday’s game will like be close, and special teams could be the difference. If it is, the Saints could be in trouble.