The New Orleans Saints are entering their NFC divisional matchup as the favorite. But, can they manage to down the Bucs for the third time this season?
NFL.com analyst Gregg Rosenthal was 5-1 on his picks in the Wild Card round. While those were much easier to call and his only miss was the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was nonetheless 5-1 with his picks, and now he’s picking against the Saints.
It’s more a pick for Tom Brady and less against New Orleans, but it still ends the same way for the Saints. Being sent home after their second game of the postseason would still be discouraging for a team which ultra-high expectations.
Here’s the crux behind his reasoning. He does go much deeper than just this surface-level sentence.
“Yet I’m picking the Bucs because the last month matters more than historical precedent, and Tom Brady is playing so much better than Drew Brees.”
Now, he did note that Sean Payton is undefeated against the Bruce Arians-led Bucs. But, that’s the past, and this is the present. That said, I’m not overly sure I agree that Brady is playing that much better than Brees, but he’ll have to for the Bucs to win.
Brees certainly isn’t playing at the level he has throughout his career, but he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer with a Pro Bowl running back in Alvin Kamara who has been selected for the game the last four straight seasons.
Along with the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year, the Saints offense is that good, and it doesn’t necessarily live or die by how Drew Brees is playing. The defense is a similar story that he also mentions.
The Saints have Trey Hendrickson who is hopeful to play. Hendrickson was tied for the second-most sacks in the NFL. With superstar Cam Jordan and Demario Davis on the roster as well, getting through them will be easier said than done.
Getting them all going against such a dominant defense will be the headline of the game.
The Saints will score on a defense that gave up 23 points to a Taylor Heinicke-led Football Team. But, the Bucs should be able to match it, so Rosenthal’s 30-27 prediction could be right on the money.
If so, the Saints-Bucs could easily be the game of the weekend.