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X-Factors: Week 2 - Buccaneers vs Saints

Predicting the players who will prove to be X-Factors for the New Orleans Saints in their 2022 home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Following a historic comeback victory in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, the New Orleans Saints return home to battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In what could be Tom Brady's final trip to the Superdome, the Saints look to continue being Brady and the Bucs' kryptonite and advance to a 5-0 regular season record against their NFC South rival since 2020.

A few players can move the pendulum in the direction of the Black and Gold against one of the NFL's all-time great quarterbacks. Here are the New Orleans Saints biggest X-Factors for Week 2 of the 2021 NFL Season.

Offensive X-Factor:

Running Backs - Alvin Kamara & Mark Ingram II

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There are a few question marks on if "Boom and Zoom" will both suit up in Week 2 after both finding their names tied to the Saints' injury report. Despite the uncertainty of their status heading into the Saints' home opener, Kamara, Ingram, or whichever running backs may suit up will be vital for success on Sunday.

Bob Rose and I said on this week's episode of The Bayou Blitz Podcast that the team that runs the ball more effectively in this matchup will likely be victorious. Against a strong Buccaneers pass-rush, keeping the defense honest and respecting the run will open up holes for Ingram and Kamara and the ability to play to a major strength of Jameis Winston's game, play-action passing.

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Historically, Kamara has performed better as a pass catcher than a rusher against Tampa Bay. Ingram has seen highs and lows in both categories against the Bucs throughout his 12-year NFL career. For New Orleans to find an offensive rhythm and continue the success from the fourth quarter against Atlanta, it is crucial for "Boom and Zoom" to carry the Saints' offense on Sunday.

Defensive X-Factor:

Defensive End - Cameron Jordan

New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94)

On paper, New Orleans has one of the most talented defensive units since the days of "The Dome Patrol." Unfortunately for Who Dat Nation, they did not receive a true glimpse of what could be a truly special defense in Week 1 against Atlanta. 

Despite having their moments and causing key turnovers, Marcus Mariota and the Falcons' offensive game plan worked to the former Heisman winner's strengths. As a result of Mariota moving the pocket and using his legs, the Saints could not effectively cause pressure on the quarterback. Dennis Allen's defense should be able to get back on the right track heading into Week 2 and a non-mobile quarterback matchup, but it starts up front with #94. 

The Saints have found success over the years against Brady by stopping the run, forcing him to pass, and knocking him off his spots within the pocket. Compiling near 30 QB Hits, 13 sacks, and forcing eight interceptions in four matchups vs. Brady, Jordan and the rest of the defensive line need to come to play if the Saints want to begin the season 2-0.


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