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Buccaneers vs Saints: Five Bold Predictions Fresh off their season-ending victory against the Saints on New Year’s Eve 2017 Jordan Whitehead Jersey , the Bucs are looking to silence the doubters/critics in Week 1 by notching consecutive victories over their division rival for the first time since 2011. Tampa Bay is 2-0 in season openers under Dirk Koetter, with one win coming on the road against the Falcons in 2016 and a win against the Bears in Tampa Bay last season. Can Koetter and the Bucs make it 3-0? It’s going to be tough without Jameis Winston, but fortunately the Bucs have talent at just about every position. A Bucs’ win in week one this year would be a bold prediction as they are (+9.5) underdogs to the Saints. But hey, what’s football without some bold predictions?Alex Salvarezza and I will put our reputations on the line every week with five bold predictions for the upcoming game. These are rooted mainly in optimism and delusion with a slight chance of coming true. Without further delay, let’s dive in. 1. Drew Brees throws for less than 250 yards (Evan)Since defensive coordinator Mike Smith joined the Bucs in 2015, Tampa Bay is 3-3 against New Orleans; however, Brees has done his thing just about every game to the tune of 271 passing yards per game with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. While it may not be vintage Brees - it’sa lot more than most NFL teams have at quarterback.If the defense comes out and looks like the 2017 unit, then the Bucs are in immediate trouble. Drew Brees will face off against the Bucs for the 25th time in his careerKim Klement-USA TODAY SportsBut with a reloaded defense, all bets are off this week as the Bucs look to win their second divisional season-opener in three years. I have little to no confidence in Smith, but I do believe that with an entire offseason to shape a game plan, he should have plenty to throw at Brees on Sunday. Look for Smith and co. to fight off their demons and get the job done on Sunday. 2. Alvin Kamara records less than 100 total yards (Evan)I know, this sounds absolutely insane. Kamara torched the Bucs last season with 31 touches for 280 yards and three touchdowns - and those numbers don’t even include his 106-yard kickoff return on New Year’s Eve.No matter how you cut it Kamara is a stud. It still remains to be seen how he fares without his running mate in Mark Ingram, who is suspended for the first four games because of a PED violation. The suspension will be enough of a difference for the Bucs to come up with an effective game plan to stop Kamara. The Saints have rookie Boston Scott and newly-signed Mike Gillislee backing him up. That’s not going to scare many teams at all. The Bucs should be able to load up the box and prevent Kamara from becoming an effective runner and they have the linebackers to match up with him when he is targeted in the passing game. Not one team could slow Kamara down in 2017, but the Bucs will be the first to do so in 2018. 3. DeSean Jackson leads the team in receiving (Alex)Crazy, right? With all the weapons the Buccaneers have on offense, it really is hard to predict each week who will lead in receiving, but not many people would pencil in Jackson for week one. There are a few reasons why I think this may be a real possibility. Mike Evans will be going up against Marshon Lattimore the reigning DROY, and Lattimore handled Evans very well last season. The chemistry between Jackson and Fitzpatrick has looked sharp all summer long. Finally, Jackson will have many new plays designed for him out of the slot that the defense hasn’t seen before. I predict a big game for Jackson. 8 catches, 125 yards, and a 60 yard touchdown. 4. Gerald McCoy gets two week one sacks (Alex)McCoy has only one sack in his last five games against the New Orleans Saints, and hasn’t recorded one against them since 2015. That changes this week. McCoy, finally has quality help along the defensive line, which should create some one on one match-ups. Throw in a very good preseason and all signs point to McCoy as ready to eat. McCoy will take advantage of his new help SundayDouglas DeFelice-USA TODAY SportsIt won’t be easy as he will be going up against Max Unger, but McCoy seems to be on a mission this year and I think he starts off the season with a huge statement. He wants to go to the playoffs and will do everything in his power to get the team their this season. 5. The Bucs win the game (Evan)Almost double-digit underdogs, if the Bucs win that will be enough of a surprise on its own.Tampa Bay has seen season prognostications as low as 2-14 to as high as 11-5. The team has a bullseye on its back when it comes to perception from fans and most of the media due to Winston’s current situation. Add in a paper-thin defense and no running game from a season ago and you can’t blame the doubters for their perception of the team. But Dirk Koetter has shown during his tenure that he will have his team prepped for a huge divisional game for the first week of the season and I think the Bucs start 1-0 after Week 1 for the third straight year.Buccaneers rookie recap: Week four Sunday was a forgettable day for the Buccaneers as a team, but a few guys will forever remember it as their first taste of NFL regular season action. Tampa Bay lost 48-10 and the debuting rookies didn’t put up any noteworthy numbers, but it was a step in the right direction for some guys that the franchise has high hopes for. Let’s get going with this week’s rookie recap.Debuts: DT Vita Vea, RB Ronald Jones II, WR Justin WatsonWhen it was announced Sunday morning that these guys were active, it felt like big news. The game going the way it did probably hurt the good feelings surrounding the sight of these rookies on the field. But nonetheless, Tampa Bay has now seen all but one of its rookies play in regular season action through the first four weeks. No. 12 overall pick Vita Vea returned from a calf injury that he suffered very early in training camp. He didn’t register a tackle, but did open up some opportunities for his fellow linemen. At this stage in his career, it looks like that will be Vea’s biggest role. He is such a massive body to have in the middle of the line Justin Evans Jersey White , one that will require a double-team more often than not. Fans can argue about whether or not it was worth drafting someone for that role so early, but it’s not a bad guy to have on a defensive line. Overall, Vea took 33 snaps, which was 54 percent of the defense’s total. Second-rounder Ronald Jones was a healthy inactive for the first three weeks, but he showed up on the field for the first time on Sunday. He ran 10 times for 29 yards and caught one of his two targets for a loss of one yard. Those numbers aren’t going to impress anyone, but he showed some nice bursts throughout the day. His first career carry went for a nice five-yard gain, which was a small snapshot of what the team hopes it has in the USC product. The downside is that he dropped a screen pass on the very next play, displaying one of the big reasons the team kept him inactive for three weeks. He took 20 snaps (32 percent), so it seems like the Bucs still want to ease him in. Overall, there’s a long way to go for Jones, but there’s clearly talent to work with. Fifth-rounder Justin Watson made his debut, playing three snaps (five percent) on offense and 18 (64 percent) on special teams. He came up with one solo tackle on special teams but didn’t get any targets in the passing game. CBs Carlton Davis and M.J. StewartTalk about forgettable... Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart have been put in a tough spot. At times throughout the first three weeks and perhaps even a little bit in week four, their sheer talent allowed them to have some success. But with injuries and a severe lack of depth, a lot is being asked of the two second-round corners. They are playing a pretty high percentage of snaps, with Davis getting 49 (80 percent) and Stewart playing 34 (56 percent) this week. The secondary as a whole got embarrassed by Mitchell Trubisky to the tune of six touchdowns. There’s a lot of blame, and rightfully so, on defensive coordinator Mike Smith for Sunday’s performance. It’s clear that there has to be some sort of adjustments made to his scheme. The shortcomings of the scheme itself can’t be on the players. But there is definitely a lot left to be desired in terms of the current scheme’s execution, regardless of whether it’s a good scheme or not. Davis and Stewart aren’t excluded from that. They have to be better, no matter what Smith’s scheme might be. Of course, that’s easier said than done. In the loss, Davis finished with three tackles (all solo). Stewart had two (both solo) and a pass defended.Inactives: OL Alex Cappa, S Jordan Whitehead, RB/KR Shaun WilsonAlex Cappa, taken in the third round, is now the only rookie that hasn’t made his regular season debut for the Bucs. It’ll come sooner or later, though he has some work to do after experiencing some growing pains throughout the preseason.Jordan Whitehead, who is supposed to have a much bigger role in the secondary with Chris Conte out, missed Sunday’s game with injuries to his hamstring and shoulder. Tampa Bay has to hope he’ll be back after the bye week, both because he has been solid in the early part of the season and because of the lack of depth at safety. With Jones active for the first time, undrafted rookie Shaun Wilson was on the outside looking in. Veteran Jacquizz Rodgers took his place as the kick returner, but only got one chance to return a kick. He took it back for 21 yards.The best of the restSixth-rounder Jack Cichy remains a part of the special teams groups. He was active for the fourth time in four games, playing 18 snaps (64 percent) on special teams and two (three percent) on defense. He was credited with an assisted tackle.
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