The New Orleans Saints are heading into Week 2 at 1-0 and are looking to keep up their dominance over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There is no question that the underdog Saints can once again beat the Bucs, so let's take a look at the bigger questions for the game.
How big of a part will injuries play in this game?
At this moment, it is fair to say a pretty big part. Both sides are dealing with key injuries such as Chris Godwin and Donovan Smith for the Bucs and Paulsen Adebo and Jameis Winston (limited participation) for the Saints. Both teams have many veterans who need rest after tough week one games, we will see who is and isn't available to play later this week.
Can the Saints' offense continue the rhythm that they found late in week one?
It took the Saints three quarters to find some kind of rhythm last week, but when they found it, they were humming. The trio of Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Olave came alive late in the 4th quarter of week one's game. All it took was just a couple of simple completions to get things going. Don't expect the Saints to come out as pass-heavy but we can expect that the offense has cleaned some things up and should be more potent earlier in the game.
Can the Saints' defensive line improve from last week's performance?
They will need to, or it will be a long game. In terms of pass rush, the Saints' D-Line will get somewhat of a pass for week one because they had to worry about containing Marcus Mariota in the pocket. This week they won't have to worry about that, they can pin their ears back and go get the QB. But in terms of the ground game, it needs to dramatically improve, from the jump. Mariota and Patterson combined for nearly 200 yards rushing last week, and Leonard Fournette also had an impressive 100-yard rushing game last week. The defensive line will need to be the star of the show.
Will the Bucs abandon the run game early?
The Saints have won 4 out of the last 5 games because they have controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. In previous matchups, the Buccaneers have abandoned the run game early due to being down on the score or ineffectiveness. In the matchup, the Bucs did win they dominated on the defensive line and were able to run the ball well. If they want to come into the dome and beat the Saints, they will need to lean on Louisiana native Leonard Fournette early and often. The Bucs are dealing with numerous injuries to their receiver room, running the ball well regardless of who does or doesn't play will be key.
Who will win?
Historically the Saints being underdogs in the dome is a bad thing for the opposing team. This matchup will mean a ton for a lot of Saints players. It will be Jameis Winston’s first matchup against his former team since his season-ending injury last year. Tyrann Mathieu and Jarvis Landry will be making their regular season dome debuts. The dome will be rocking, the Saints' defense will come alive, and the offense will continue to click. Saints win!