It’s finally here — Week 8 against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (blech). This is the game that New Orleans Saints fans have had circled on their calendar since the 2021 season schedules were released back in May.
We all knew Tom Brady coming to the NFC South would change the division in a big way but we didn’t expect for them to go all the way to the Super Bowl and win it. They were able to do so after knocking off the Saints in the divisional round despite NOLA sweeping the Bucs in the regular season.
Heading into this game, the Saints are 5.5-point underdogs, per WynnBET despite being the home team. I know the Bucs have an explosive offense but these two teams match up well, as the Saints have the defense to slow down Tampa. NOLA’s offense hasn’t been very good but even their receivers might be able to get the better of Tampa’s weak secondary.
If the Saints can beat the Bucs or at least keep this game close, we’ll know that this is a playoff team. If, however, the Saints fail to be competitive, the Bucs will coast to the division title and New Orleans will leave us confused yet again.
This is the Saints’ chance to show us who they really are.
To this point, the Saints have been a confusing team to figure out.
They came out of the gates hot, scorching the Packers in Week 1 but then barely staying afloat in Week 2 against what’s now proven to be a less-than-stellar Panthers team. They then blew out the Patriots in Week 3 but stumbled against the then-winless Giants. Their wins over Washington and Seattle went in their favor but both provided plenty of questions for us to ponder.
The Bucs give New Orleans their toughest test yet and we should have more answers to those questions we’ve had all season.
If the Saints defense can contain Brady and his wide array of weapons, we can officially mark this defense as Super Bowl-caliber. That’ll be the biggest takeaway from this game because the defense gives this team the best chance to win.