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Bucs-Saints: Predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Here are the Times staff predictions for Tampa Bay's game against New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium.
 
Buccaneers defensive end Carl Nassib (94) is shown here trying to sack New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9)  during the Bucs' 48-40 win at New Orleans in the 2018 season-opener. The teams meet again Sunday in Tampa. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Buccaneers defensive end Carl Nassib (94) is shown here trying to sack New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the Bucs' 48-40 win at New Orleans in the 2018 season-opener. The teams meet again Sunday in Tampa. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Published Dec. 8, 2018

The Bucs' 48-40 victory over New Orleans on opening day of the NFL may seem like a long time ago. But the Bucs enter Sunday's game at home on a two-game winning streak and a pass rush that has produced four sacks in each of the last three games.

Will it matter against Drew Brees and the Saints? Here are our Bucs coverage team's predictions:

Saints alive

Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer @NFLStroud: The Bucs have a nice two-game win streak has some wind in their sails. New Orleans won 10 in a row before that Thursday night loss in Dallas and have 10 days off to stew about it. It's true the Bucs defense is humming with 24 sacks since Week 7, second most in the NFL. The most? New Orleans with 25. Saints are better. Prediction: New Orleans 34-28.

Pressure equals victory

Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs/pro enterprise writer, @EddieintheYard: You can only put so much stock into the Bucs' Week 1 win at New Orleans. Tampa Bay actually matches up well, but the Bucs won't sneak up on the Saints after last week's loss to the Cowboys. This one is decided in the trenches. Whichever defense disrupts the other team's quarterback more emerges victorious.  Prediction: New Orleans 31-24.

About that blueprint

Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: "Did the Cowboys show the NFL the blueprint to beating the Saints?" Sigh. You know what the blueprint is? It's not a game plan that you install the week before a game. It's drafting players like Demarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch. New Orleans' loss to Dallas was a blip. Its previous 11 games offer plenty of evidence that it's a scary good football team, and I'm betting that's the one that shows up Sunday. As for the weather, the Saints can beat the Bucs in the rain. Or in the dark. Or on a train. Or in a car. Or in a tree. They are so good, so good, you see! Prediction: New Orleans 27-20.

Too much time to stew

Martin Fennelly, columnist, @mjfennelly: The Bucs and Jameis Winston are rallying late, but with 10 days to scheme for the Bucs' battered secondary, Saints coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees figure to return to form as they chase No. 1 seed in NFC. Prediction: New Orleans 31-20.

Return to earth

Ernest Hooper, metro columnist, @hoop4you: The Bucs have enjoyed a nice two-game winning streak, but their feel-good ride crashes. The Cowboys have given the Saints a needed wake-up calls. Alvin Kamara should be able to exploit a Tampa Bay defense that struggled to contain San Francisco's Matt Breida and Carolina's Christian McCaffrey. Winston is likely to enjoy some success, but the Bucs win only if they can keep the Saints off the field with a consistent rushing attack. Prediction: New Orleans 30-20.

No repeat

Tom Jones, columnist, @tomwjones: The Bucs' win at  New Orleans looks to be one of the more surprising results of the NFL season. But that was not a fluky victory. The Bucs played well, piling up 48 points. It has been an up and down (mostly down) season since. Winston has been turnover-free for two weeks now, but that streak might stop as he tries to put up a bunch of points to keep pace with Brees and the Saints. A repeat of week one seems unlikely. Prediction: New Orleans 34-24.

Missing O.J.

Mike Sherman, sports editor, @mikesherman: The Bucs' pass rush was impressive last week. All things are possible with that kind of effort and production. Alas, you need all hands on deck to keep up with the Saints. O.J. Howard is the kind of guy who can take a high-percentage pass to the house. Too bad we won't see him in uniform until next season. Prediction: New Orleans 28-21.