The New Orleans Saints are home again. After having five of their first six games on the road, a home stretch is a welcome respite from the travel. Awaiting the Saints is a divisional opponent and the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This will be the Saints most difficult test to date. Sitting at 4-2 on the year, the Saints could change the tide of the NFC South with a win this week. If the Saints are to win, they will need to win some battles within the game. These are the key matchups of the New Orleans Saints versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Week 8 of the NFL regular season.
Chris Godwin vs Paulson Adebo
Most around the Who Dat Nation know that Mike Evans faces his nemesis this week. Marshon Lattimore has excelled at shutting down Evans. This side of the Buccaneers’ receiving unit will not be the issue in this matchup. Rob Gronkowski is set to return this week as well. But, he will draw one of the best linebackers in the league in Demario Davis. The Saints have not allowed a touchdown to any tight end this season. It is unlikely that they will begin this week. Without these two weapons, Tom Brady will have to look elsewhere for passing production.
The matchup to watch will be unproven rookie Paulson Adebo against Chris Godwin. Adebo has been good for the Saints, but this is his toughest matchup to date. Godwin is a dynamic difference-maker with the Buccaneers offense. In the past two years, Godwin has had three touchdowns against the Saints. Even if it ends up being Bradley Roby on Godwin for this game, he will likely be Tom Brady’s target on most throws. This defense will need to slow Godwin down, without committing too many players, to keep this game close.
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Calvin Throckmorton versus Vita Vea
This stat line reads like a heavyweight title fight in the WWE. Calvin Throckmorton stands 6’7 and weighs 315 pounds out of Stanford. He faces Vita Vea, the 6’4, 350 pounder out of the University of Washington. These two super heavyweights face off in Week 8. Throckmorton has all of a sudden become one of the Saints starting interior offensive linemen. Starting guard Andrus Peat is set to undergo surgery soon, which will likely end his season. Throckmorton will take over as the starter. For his trouble, Throckmorton now gets to face one of the best Nose Tackles in the league, Vita Vea. Vea leads this Buccaneers defense against the run, which the Saints need to be able to do on offense. Alvin Kamara has been one of the few bright spots of the Saints offense, but Vea is a complete disruptor against opposing running games. Throckmorton, along with the rest of the interior offensive line, will need to move this mountain of a man to stand a chance this week.
Jameis Winston vs Todd Bowles
Jameis Winston’s last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was Todd Bowles’ first. These two would have practiced against each other every week. The familiarity between the two will be on display in this week’s matchup. Bowles is likely to recall what did and did not work against Winston in practices. Bowles will make sure to bring everything he learned to this matchup, especially with the Buccaneers issues in the secondary. Expect Bowles to use his dominant front seven to disrupt Winston in the pocket. The Buccaneers weakness is in the secondary, with several players currently on the injury reports. The Saints will need to exploit this weakness to have a chance in the game.
Sean Payton and the Saints offense will know how to attack Todd Bowles’ defense though. In the regular season, the Saints are 4-0 against the Buccaneers since Bowles took over as defensive coordinator. The Saints offense has also not scored less than 30 points in any meeting against this defense in the regular season. Of course, this was with Drew Brees at quarterback, but the game plan will be strong for Winston. If he can execute against this defense, the Saints could very well upset the Buccaneers in Week 8.