It’s football time, folks, and we’re back again with the Interview with the Enemy series. Now the games actually count! This week, Gil Arcia of Bucs Nation answers 5 quick questions about the first regular season game for two NFC South rivals: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing off against the New Orleans Saints.
First things first: What are you expecting out of Ryan Fitzpatrick during Jameis Winston’s suspension?
I expect Fitzpatrick to be merely a game manager. He’s not going to light up the stat sheet, but just don’t turn the ball over. We saw him make some decent throws during the preseason. Hopefully he’ll carry that over.
Who is the primary running back for the Buccaneers to start the season?
Right now it’s Peyton Barber. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Rookie Ronald Jones struggled throughout the preseason, primarily because of the line up front. But Barber did well to close out the season in 2017 so it’ll be interesting to see how that translates into his 2018 campaign.
Who is one player on the Bucs that Saints fans might not have heard of that you expect to make an impact on this game?
Offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch has been slowly working hard and trying to be named the starter across Tampa Bay’s offensive line. Saints fans may have gotten a glimpse of him last season as he started the finale for the Buccaneers. He’ll start this Sunday at right guard and could be key in the run game.
You got a lot of flack on CSC for predicting the Bucs would go 11-5, even in spite of Winston’s suspension. Now’s your chance - care to renege, or are you sticking to your guns?
I am sticking to that. When I said it on CSC, I had already shared it on social media. Besides that, after watching the first team offense perform throughout training camp and the preseason, I strongly feel they can carry the team now that it seems they have gotten their offensive problems worked out. The key will be the defense, which thankfully, has an upgraded defensive front that could give opposing offenses headaches.
What’s your prediction for the game? Final score?
I honestly think this game can go either way. There are a lot of people that may be overlooking the Bucs’ potential. With that said, the Bucs can sneak out of there with a close win, 23-20.
A big thanks to Gil for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you check out his work and the rest of the good folks at Bucs Nation for tons of Bucs content. You can follow Gil on Twitter @GilArciaBUCS, Bucs Nation @Bucs_Nation, and of course you can always follow me @dunnellz.