Three Reasons the Saints Will Win; Three why They’ll Lose This Week
The New Orleans Saints sit atop the NFC South right now with one game remaining. With a win they'll have clinched their first division crown since 2011. Even with a loss coupled with a Carolina Panthers loss will award the Saints the division crown.
Many are saying this game could very well be something of a trap game for New Orleans as they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers.
For the past month, the Bucs have been in every single game they've played. They've lost their last three by three points respectively and lost to the Green Bay Packers by six in overtime. They're trying to finish the season strong and DT Gerald McCoy came out this week and said he's not sitting out this final game, "That's a loser mindset," McCoy stated when questioned about playing in a meaningless game for his team.
Don't forget we also have the rematch between Marshon Lattimore and Mike Evans after the Week 8 sideline scuffle where Evans laid a cheap shot on Lattimore. Evans has since apologized but Lattimore says he's looking forward to the rematch.
No Steve Peloquin this week so I'll be providing you with the good and the bad when it comes to the Saints prospects of winning this week.
Let's kick you off with the good, three reasons why the Saints will be victorious this weekend.
1) Disrupting Jameis Winston
This was supposed to be a break through year for Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers but things don't always go as planned. Since Winston's gotten healthy the Bucs have played nothing but close games. We've seen if you pressure him you can throw him off his mark and frustrate the young quarterback. Winston has great confidence in his strong right arm and sometimes that leads him to hold onto the ball too long and when he does that it leads to added pressure. Cameron Jordan will continue his dominance this season in this game, he'll break his career sack total, and there will be a couple of coverage sacks of Winston. The Saints front will keep him on the move as the Bucs offensive line has been banged up.
2) Boom and Zoom Continue Rolling
Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara both made the Pro-Bowl this season but both are hoping they won't be able to play in it because the Saints will be heading to the Super Bowl. However, they've been incredible this year and if the Saints are successful this weekend it'll be more of the same formula we've seen where Boom and Zoom are making plays against a banged up defense.
3) Secondary Shutdown
We know that we've got the rematch between Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore. I don't think Lattimore will get caught up in trying to do anything more than he has all season long, why would he even need to? He's truly been one of the best shutdown defenders in the league this season. According to Pro Football Focus Lattimore grades out as a 90.5 which categorizes him as an elite talent and fifth highest graded CB in the league.
Alright, now unfortunately it's time to look at what could go wrong for the Saints this week and give you some reasons why they would come up short against an inferior opponent.
1) Taking Opponent for Granted
In sports and the NFL especially you can never take an opponent for granted but the Saints did clinch a playoff spot last week. This leads some to believe that this team may overlook the Buccaneers (4-11) and have an glancing eye towards the playoffs instead of both eyes focused in on TB. This could cause a little bit of a letdown with the Saints this week. It's hard to tell right this second if that'll effect them but just watch how the first half goes, you may be able to tell then.
2) Defensive Depth Struggles
The Saints had been relatively healthy until recently where they've lost defensive back Kenny Vaccaro, defensive end Alex Okafor, and linebacker A.J. Klein. Others have stepped up in place of these guys and have really helped fill the gap. However, if the Saints aren't successful this weekend we could see a drop off in that bench depth that's played so well. Maybe Manti Ta'o and Craig Robertson look a little off and aren't making as many big plays, maybe Vonn Bell doesn't have great vision in the defensive back field. That could lead to some big plays on this defense that they've largely been able to avoid since early in the season.
Now, I'm really hoping this one isn't the case but it would be a valid reason for coming up short in a game you should win, injuries. If the Saints happen to sustain a couple injuries to whichever position, that could lead to some problems not just for this game but moving forward into the playoffs as well. It's not a meaningless game for New Orleans but if they happen to get up big or down big and I were Sean Payton I would seriously consider pulling his starters.