Today, we are joined by Evan Wanish with Bucs Nation to preview this all-important game in this week's interview with the enemy.
LH: Baker Mayfield has quietly been one of the best QB’s in the league this season and more specifically the last three games. What have you seen from him this season and why do you think he’s been able to have a career year in 2023?
EW: One of the biggest things this season for Mayfield has been his ability to protect the football. Turnovers have been an issue for him in the past and a big reason why he’s now on his fourth team, but he’s done a good job of making the right decisions and not putting the ball in harm's way.
Mayfield will still have some inconsistencies in his game as he’s definitely not a complete QB, but he has been everything the Bucs could’ve asked for and more when they signed him this past offseason.
LH: Rachaad White has come along quite nicely, totaling nearly 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns through 15 games this season. What has enabled him to become such an efficient player for this Bucs offense?
EW: When it comes to Rachaad White, his ability to produce in the passing game has been a huge asset to this Bucs offense. Early in the season, the Bucs struggled to run the ball and there were some that were down on White, but in the second half of the season not only has he been more efficient as a runner, but he’s become a real threat as a receiver. Look for the Bucs to continue to get him involved in more than just running the ball.
LH: The Bucs have seven players with 4+ sacks this season and they’ve been able to do it from the linebacker, safety, edge rusher and defensive tackle positions. What has Todd Bowles been doing defensively that’s made it so hard for opposing offenses to block the Bucs pass rush?
EW: The interesting thing about that stat for the Bucs pass rushers is that at times this season the lack of pass rush has actually been a pretty big issue for the team. Rookies like Calijah Kancey and Yaya Diaby have really given a boost to this pass rush, and it has been much better in the second half of the season. With those two stepping up plus having a great player like Vita Vea and a weapon in the secondary like Antoine Winfield Jr, the Bucs can throw a lot of different things at an offensive line.
LH: Mike Evans is having one of the best seasons of his career in 2023. With no Marshon Lattimore for the Saints, do you think he’s in for another big game? And what have you seen from him this season that’s allowed him to hit 1,000 yards for the 10th year in a row?
EW: Even with no Lattimore, I’m not sure how big of a game we are going to see from Mike Evans. With New Orleans playing a lot of heavy man concepts, it could be tougher for Evans to take advantage of some matchups. If the Bucs do wish to get him the football, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is in the red zone trying to grab those 50-50 balls.
LH: The Bucs open as 3-point favorites on DraftKings. Do you think the red-hot Bucs can cover the spread at home against the Saints on Sunday?
EW: So, with the line now being at -2.5 in favor of Tampa, I now do like Tampa because I think this is a very close game that the Bucs squeak out. It is tough to sweep a divisional opponent and I’m sure the Saints do not want the Bucs clinching the south against them. That being said, give me the home team covering and winning 20-17.
Thank you Evan for joining us this week! You can check out the rest of his work on the Bucs Nation website.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.