3 New Orleans Saints Bold Predictions for Week 1

Bold Predictions for the New Orleans Saints in Week 1.
Bold Predictions for the New Orleans Saints in Week 1. / Will Vragovic/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints open up the 2020 NFL season by hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1. The Saints are 3.5-point favorites in this game and are expected to start the season 1-0.

It wouldn't be surprising to see this game go down to the wire, but Week 1 is always shocking when it comes down to who makes the big plays when they are needed. With that in mind, here are three bold predictions for the Saints against the Buccaneers.

1. Emmanuel Sanders Scores a Touchdown in his Saints Debut

When the Saints signed Emmanuel Sanders to a two-year deal this past offseason, they did so in expectations that he would slide in as the No. 2 wide receiver alongside Michael Thomas. He has a chance to prove that he can be just that in a favorable matchup against a Buccaneers' defense that gave up the most yards to wide receivers in 2019 (3,176). In fact, that defense also gave up the most receptions (240) and third-most touchdowns (21) to wide receivers last season as well. With coverage being drawn to focus on Thomas, Sanders should see a lot of opportunities to capitalize on one-on-one coverage and find some open space for quarterback Drew Brees. Tampa Bay gave up the third-most passing yards per game last season (270.1), so look for Brees and the Saints offense to throw the ball early and often against a team known for being unable to stop the air game. Sanders caught 5 touchdowns last season and it would not be surprising to see him start the season with one on Sunday.

2. Drew Brees Leads a Fourth Quarter Game Winning Drive

Drew Brees ranks second all-time in game-winning drives, having completed the achievement 50 times throughout his career. In a matchup against Tom Brady and the new-look Buccaneers team in Week 1, the game is expected to be close in the fourth quarter. That means the pressure to win may sit right on Brees' shoulders. Facing a defense that gave up the fewest rushing yards per game last season (73.8), the Saints may very well have to focus on the passing game to win especially late in the game. With a career completion percentage of 69.2 percent, Brees will look to dominate against a defense that gave up the seventh-highest completion percentage last season at 61.5 percent. The Saints currently ride a 3-game winning streak against the Buccaneers and in a close game, Brees will come up huge to start the season off with a win.

3. Saints Shut Down Tampa Bay Running Game

The Buccaneers are expected to use a running back-by-committee approach this season, with third-year player Ronald Jones, new signee Leonard Fournette and veteran LeSean McCoy competing for touches. No matter who is running the ball on Sunday, expect the Saints to shut it down. The Saints' defense gave up the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game last season (93.9) and gave up a rushing touchdown in less than half of the games they played. The Saints bring back a defensive line featuring Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport that has helped suffocate the opponents' running game for the past two seasons. Since the start of 2017, the Saints' yards per rush allowed ranks only behind the Chicago Bears. If the Saints are able to shut down the running game early on, look for Tom Brady to shift the game plan to the passing game in his Buccaneers' debut.

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Larry Rupp is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Larry Rupp also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username phillyfan424. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.