First Look: Buccaneers vs. Saints
The wait is almost over, as the New Orleans Saints open up their 2020 regular season campaign by hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's going to look completely different due to no fans being in attendance, but the sentiment of football being back is truly something special. Figuring out what to expect in this game is a lot like playing the table games at the casino. The action could be hot and hit on all cylinders, or could just be a giant strikeout and letdown.
It's easy to say we'll be paying attention to everything in this game, as the lack of preseason and only small sample sizes from training camp are what we've been shown. No matter how the first meeting goes between Tom Brady and Drew Brees this season, the second one in the prime time spotlight of Sunday Night Football in early November should be even more entertaining.
What to Watch For
How well does New Orleans move the ball? The Saints offense has a ton of returning cast members, and looks to be even better with upgrades like Cesar Ruiz and Emmanuel Sanders. We know how last year ended with the Saints, with the Vikings giving the offense tons of fits by blowing up the interior. What we should pay attention to is if the Buccaneers front seven tries something similar to throw the Saints off, and more importantly how Drew Brees can react and respond to it. As much praise of the Bucs get for improving, their secondary is still unproven and suspect, which means Brees could be in for a big day if the Bucs get overly aggressive.
Tom Brady vs. the Saints defense. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, and LeSean McCoy are just some of the upgrades the Buccaneers acquired during the offseason, already having the likes of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. There's plenty of other support characters for the Bucs, but the bottom line is Brady has singlehandedly dominated the storylines and has pole-vaulted Tampa Bay into the Super Bowl conversation. Whether the Bucs win or lose this game, you'll either hear it's because of them being so new together or that they're one of the greatest teams in the NFL now.
Mike Evans vs. Marshon Lattimore. This matchup never gets old, and should be really fun to watch. Lattimore 'put the clamps' on a ton of marquee receivers last season, and Evans was one of them. The addition of Malcolm Jenkins and permanent starting role for Janoris Jenkins in the secondary should only help the Saints with the fine-tuning process, and it might not show up immediately in Week 1, but figures to be something that is drastically improved.
An empty Superdome. Again, not having fans in attendance for this game is a true bummer. While there's optimism for change when the team returns in Week 3 when they host the Packers on Sunday Night Football, the reality is it won't be the same. The Superdome crowd is iconic and instrumental in helping the players feed off of, but they won't have that luxury.
The game is featured as FOX's Game of the Week, with a 3:25 p.m. CT late kickoff. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will have the call, with Jerome Boger and crew working the officiating.