Saints 2021 schedule previews: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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·5 min read
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Saints Wire continues with our previews of upcoming opponents for the New Orleans Saints in 2021. We arrive at the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers who hoisted the Lombardi trophy at the end of the last campaign.

While the Buccaneers have always been an NFC South opponent, the “rivalry” always seemed forced until Brady arrived on Tampa’s shores. The Drew Brees versus Brady storyline blossomed into one of the most watched and closely followed series of last season.

Now, there is almost as equally a good of a tale as Jameis Winston is set to take over for Brees and will face his old team in the Buccaneers at least twice this season. The expectations for him couldn’t be higher. With that, let’s take a look at just who Tampa Bay is this year:

Game Information

Week 8

Sep 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) under center against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

  • When: 4:25 p.m. CT, Sunday, Oct. 31 2021

  • Where: Superdome, New Orleans, La.

  • TV: FOX

Week 15

Nov 17, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and running back Alvin Kamara (41) look on during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

  • When: 7:20 p.m. CT, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

  • TV: NBC

Expectations for Tampa Bay

Oct 18, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady (12) after scoring a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter of a NFL game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned previously, the Buccaneers are coming off of a Super Bowl winning season and Brady is back. It was reported that Brady played the majority of the season on a torn MCL, which means a healthy Brady in 2021 could mean increased efficiency in the offense. Tampa also ensured that the core of its team from last season is back and ready to roll. For the first time since the early 2000s, the Buccaneers are a feared franchise and the team to beat in the NFC South. On paper, they appear to once again hold the edge in the division and the expectation is that they will once again taste the playoffs. However, New Orleans may have something to say about that. As for the oddsmakers at BetMGM: they have set the over/under at 12 regular season wins for Tampa Bay. Expectations are high that they'll improve over last year's 11-win season that got them into the playoffs in the first place.

Key Additions

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 06: Chris Godwin #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scores a touchdown during the first half of a NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on October 06, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Free Agency

Notably, the Buccaneers were able to re-sign nearly the entire core of their Super Bowl-winning squad. Players like wide receivers Chris Godwin, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and running back Leonard Fournette were all retained on the offensive side of the ball. As far as the defense, key playmakers such as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, linebackers Shaquil Barrett, and Lavonte David were re-signed. Additionally, Tampa should see some of its players who were injured in 2020 make a return such as running back Ronald Jones II and tight end O.J. Howard. Those two alone could help transform any offense. Without any notable trades, this team in 2021 will look almost exactly like they did in 2020, minus some depth pieces and barring the addition of their draft picks. Speaking of...

2021 NFL draft

  • First round, 32nd overall: LB Joe Tryon, Washington

  • Second round, 64th overall: QB Kyle Trask, Florida

  • Third round, 95th overall: G Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame

The Buccaneers helped shore up some of it's needs on defense with the addition of Tryon. The first round pick will work in as a rotational piece backing up Jason Pierre-Paul and Barrett and has already impressed in mandatory mini-camp. The selection of Trask is likely a look towards the future and life after Brady. The Florida product has some decent traits that had many projecting him to go as early as the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. However, he will likely sit behind Brady while he learns from one of the game's greatest. Hainsey represents more depth along a very solid front for Tampa. He will fill in when and where needed due to his versatility. The Buccaneers drafted a future starter, but he likely won't be needed during 2021 barring injury.

Key Losses

Nov 17, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians looks on during the first half at against the New Orleans Saints Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Again, the theme of 'no change' for the reigning Super Bowl champions continues here when looking at any significant losses. In reality, the only loss that could be felt is that of offensive tackle Joe Haeg. Then again, they drafted Hainsey to help mitigate the loss and it saved Tampa some money in doing so.

Series History and Preview

Nov 8, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) greet after the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the Saints and the Buccaneers have shared a division since 2002, these teams have faced off a lot. 59 times to be exact and New Orleans holds the edge 37-22. Last season, the Saints swept Tampa in the regular season, but then Brady used New Orleans to punch his ticket to the NFC Conference Championship. The Buccaneers have a new identity and they are chomping at the bit to flaunt it. Meanwhile, the Saints are entering a transition year, one in which Brees is no longer around to lead the charge and the defense is undergoing a season of re-tooling. However, plenty of storylines, especially those surround Winston and facing his old team will be swirling around. Yet, the expectations for the Saints are high, just as they are for Tampa Bay.

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