It’s GAME DAY at Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux – Come watch Bucs football all season long!
WHEN: Monday, December 5, 2022 | WHERE: Raymond James Stadium | KICK OFF: 8:15pm ET | TV: ESPN
PLAY BY PLAY: Joe Buck |ANALYST: Troy Aikman | SIDELINE: Lisa Salters
RADIO: 98 ROCK 97.9 FM | PLAY BY PLAY: Gene Deckerhoff | ANALYST: Dave Moore | SIDELINE: TJ Rives
Game day is approaching, and it’s time for the Pewter Report staff to make its weekly game predictions and offer up our game preview of this week’s matchup. Let us know what you think in the article comments section and add your prediction, too.
Scott Reynolds: Saints Own Ray-Jay Once Again As Bucs Fall To 5-7
I wish I had the guts to pick the Bucs to beat the Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Monday Night Football, but I don’t. This team keeps punching me in the gut, losing games it should win. That’s been happening all season, so excuse my guts for not wanting any more punishment. Just look at my record at picking the Bucs’ games this year – 4-7. That’s almost as bad as the 5-6 Buccaneers. The Saints won four straight games against the Bucs in Tampa, with the last two coming in prime time on Sunday Night Football – a 38-3 thrashing in 2020 and an embarrassing 9-0 loss last year. Do I think a game on Monday Night Football will end in a different outcome? No.
The biggest reason I think the Bucs will lose to the Saints is a familiar one. New Orleans will dominate the line of scrimmage, especially on defense. Right tackle Tristan Wirfs won’t be there to handle Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan. Left tackle Donovan Smith has been playing like garbage this season for some reason, and he will have a hard time handling Marcus Davenport and Carl Granderson. Jordan will likely slaughter Josh Wells, who will be filling in for Wirfs. Tom Brady will get pressured, hit and sacked all night.
The Bucs beat the Saints in Week 2 because the defense came up with five takeaways in New Orleans. Mike Edwards scored on a pick-six to help a struggling Bucs offense that only conjured up 13 points in a 20-10 victory. The Bucs have had trouble coming up with one takeaway per game – let alone five. Unless Tampa Bay’s defense miraculously comes up with a bunch of takeaways to help win the turnover battle, I don’t think the Bucs have a chance of beating the Saints again.
REYNOLDS’ GAME PREDICTION: Saints 20, Bucs 17
REYNOLDS’ SEASON RECORD: 4-7
Matera: Bucs Defense Leads The Way In A Rock Fight Of A Game
I truly don’t know why I’m picking the Bucs at this point. Their offense egregiously underperforms and has shown no sign that it can improve. On top of that, the Saints’ defense has always given the Bucs a rough go of it. Even when Tampa Bay defeated New Orleans in Week 2, the offense didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. The Bucs defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense in that game thanks to a Mike Edwards pick-six.
With that said, the Saints haven’t been on fire either as of late and they are coming off a game in which they were shut out against the 49ers, who the Bucs play next week. It is truly going to take a great effort by the Tampa Bay defense to win it. That’s already an uphill battle with it looking like Antoine Winfield Jr. will be out. Plus, Mike Edwards hasn’t practiced the first two days during the week. But I really like what Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean bring in coverage, and they should be able to shut down the Saints’ passing game. It’s just a matter of if they’ll stop the run and get a pass rush.
It’s been such a wacky year for Todd Bowles’ team. Everyone expected them to run away with the division, but it hasn’t come close to it. It’s been so odd that they’ve lost really bad games in the Steelers, Panthers and Browns and yet defeated the Saints and Rams, who are the two teams that have been game-wreckers for them in recent seasons. It might only take one touchdown to win this with two struggling offenses, but somehow Tom Brady finds a way to get the ball down the field enough to win. This is my last straw for the Bucs. If they lose this one, I may not pick them again for the rest of the season.
MATERA’S GAME PREDICTION: Bucs 19, Saints 6
MATERA’S SEASON RECORD: 3-8
JC Allen: Injuries Are Too Much To Over Come As Bucs Fall To Saints
Something has got to give, right? At some point a team loaded with talent has to figure it out and find a way to score more than 18.2 points per game on offense, which ranks 27th in the league. At some point the NFL’s worst rushing attack has to turn it around and make the offense less one dimensional. At some point the coaching staff needs to realize the predictability of the offense – that just trotting out your players and expecting them to win their one-on-one matchups every play is not sustainable. That this is a pass-first team, and consistently running on first down doesn’t work. At some point they’ll go back to what made them so successful the last two seasons. Whelp, it’s not going to be this week.
The Bucs are littered with injuries at pretty important positions. Their All-Pro right tackle is set to miss the next three to four games with an ankle injury, which isn’t the news you want to find out when facing the Saints defensive line. New Orleans has 33 sacks a season. And while Tom Brady has done his best to avoid sacks all year, he’ll have his job cut out for hm on Monday. While teams have been able to move the ball on the Saints to the tune of 129 yards per game, their pass defense is one of the best in the league. Mike Evans and Brady have been out of sync and you know New Orleans corner Marshon Lattimore will do everything he can to get under his skin if he plays.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bucs could be without their top two safeties. Antoine Winfield Jr is now dealing with an ankle injury that looks poised to knock him out of the Week 13 matchup. While his running mate, Mike Edwards, is dealing with a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined at practice all week. Defensive tackles Akiem Hicks and Vita Vea are dealing with foot injuries, which will be a major factor in controlling the line of scrimmage. The Saints offense isn’t exactly a potent one, but its success at Ray Jay and the Bucs’ ongoing struggles lead me to believe they’ll do enough to beat a floundering Bucs team.
ALLEN’S GAME PREDICTION: Saints 17, Bucs 13
ALLEN’S SEASON RECORD: 4-7
Bailey Adams: Mediocre Bucs Beat Even More Mediocre Saints
At this point, I think the Bucs are what they are: a mediocre football team. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you consider that the greatest quarterback of all time is on your sideline, as is the franchise’s all-time leading receiver and a number of Pro Bowl and All-Pro talents. I wanted to believe the good old Bucs were somewhat back after they won two straight heading into their bye week, but last week’s loss in Cleveland and Todd Bowles’ day-after press conference did some serious damage to my faith in this team.
The really disappointing thing about this Monday Night Football matchup is that the Saints are a bad football team. They’re the worst they’ve been in a long time, actually, but the Bucs might not even be able to pull it together enough to take advantage of it. Yes, Tampa Bay beat New Orleans by 10 back in Week 2, but that was a 3-3 game heading into the fourth quarter. A late implosion by Jameis Winston and the Saints offense was enough for the Bucs to snap their seven-game regular season losing streak to their division rival. Can they complete a sweep of the Saints for the first time since 2007? The answer should be an easy yes, yet it’s not.
As bad as the Saints are and as much of an edge as the Bucs should have in terms of talent and home-field advantage, I’m still struggling to call this one. Losing Tristan Wirfs is a nightmare, especially for this game. Even with Throws, this offense was problematic. Without him? I’m already wincing at the pressure that Tom Brady will feel from the New Orleans front. The good news is, though, the Saints offense isn’t anything special either. So, the path to a win for the Bucs is likely the same as it was the last time these two teams met. I think Tampa Bay does just enough on offense to complement a strong defensive effort. It’ll be ugly, but this team is in a position where it needs to take wins however it can get them.
ADAMS’ GAME PREDICTION: Bucs 17, Saints 13
ADAMS’ SEASON RECORD: 5-6
Josh Queipo: Bucs Stave Off Disaster In Close Win
This season has not gone anywhere close to what the Bucs envisioned when it began. The offense is abysmal compared to expectations and the defense, despite being stout overall, seems to always give up the backbreaking drive at the end of the games. The only saving grace is that the Saints are reeling even worse this season.
The Bucs got the monkey off their back earlier this season in terms of the Saints’ regular-season dominance when they won in New Orleans. Now, it comes down to which team has the most talent and best coaching.
Tampa Bay owns the advantage in terms of talent, and even with the recent coaching malpractice that Todd Bowles put on display against Cleveland, I believe he and Dennis Allen to be relatively equal. Both are defensive savants who struggle in terms of adapting to the modern world as the top guy. Add in the home-field advantage the Bucs should enjoy and I see them winning a nail-biter and maintaining their division lead for at least one more week.
QUEIPO’S GAME PREDICTION: Bucs 21, Saints 20
QUEIPO’S SEASON RECORD: 6-5
Kasey Hudson: Talent Overcomes As Tampa Bay Gets Back On Track
After the Bucs’ rough overtime loss to the Browns last Sunday, the Saints only being 3.5-point underdogs is not surprising. What’s becoming difficult is that on paper, Tampa Bay looks capable of winning. It’s not for a lack of talent that’s crushing this team’s ability to consistently win, it’s coaching. Questionable calls unaccounted for will continue to keep this roster from thriving.
On Monday night, a healthier Bucs team should be capable of beating what’s become of the Saints. With Andy Dalton likely to start, Tampa Bay’s defense can force mistakes and finally collect more turnovers. Dalton has seven interceptions this season and has lost control of the ball numerous times. It’s time for the Bucs defense to take that next step, something that the team can bank on if Logan Ryan returns.
As for the offense, the loss of Tristan Wirfs is huge. Yet, having Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Rachaad White, Cade Otton and Cam Brate can move this team down the field if everyone can get on the same page. The Bucs offense as of now appears to have a slight advantage after seeing the Saints’ injury report and banged-up secondary. This is a winnable game for Tampa Bay if they don’t beat themselves … but that’s a gamble.
HUDSON’S GAME PREDICTION: Bucs 24, Saints 13
HUDSON’S SEASON RECORD: 5-6