Saints Poised to Deliver Brady and Bucs Wake Up

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Tom Brady begins a new era with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday when they travel to NFC South rivals New Orleans Saints.

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay QB

Having added a six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback to their ranks, the Bucs are expected to make a run at the Vince Lombardi trophy this year but could get off to a rocky start against a veteran Saints side.

Super Showdown at the Superdome

The Bucs went 7-9 in 2019 in Bruce Arians’s first year as head coach, finishing well adrift of the Saints in the NFC South as the divisional crown went to New Orleans for the third season in a row.

However, the arrival of Brady, his former Patriots colleague Rob Gronkowski and running-back Leonard Fournette has pushed the Florida franchise firmly into the reckoning when it comes to this year’s Super Bowl.

Tampa are 14/1 to win the Super Bowl heading into Sunday’s first game, just behind 12/1 chances New Orleans in the outright betting.

The Saints are trying to break an unhappy three-year cycle of storming through the regular season before flopping in the playoffs, crashing out in the wildcard round against the Minnesota Vikings last year.

With quarterback Drew Brees now 41 and the team facing salary cap issues beyond 2020, New Orleans’ Super Bowl window appears to be closing and this could be their last shot at top prize with this current squad.

Lead by Brees, the Saints have a formidable offense with wide receiver Michael Thomas leading the NFL in receiving yards with 1795, while Alvin Kamara is a formidable dual-threat running-back.

The Bucs will feel they have the firepower to keep up with the Saints if this turns into a shootout though, both teams having scored 458 points last year. With Tampa improving their offense, over 47.5 total points at 50/57 looks a strong possibility.

Where this game is likely won or lost is on defence, the Saints returning the majority of their staters which made them a top-10 unit last year, proving particularly strong against the run.

Tampa’s defence took a big step forward last year but still conceded over 30 points in both defeats to the Saints in 2019 and the hosts can emerge victorious again at 5/9.

Cardinals Can Give San Fran a Fright

The San Francisco 49ers can’t afford to still be suffering from a Super Bowl hangover when they welcome the Arizona Cardinals to the Bay Area. The Niners let the Vince Lombardi trophy slip through their grasp and they face a tough road back to the big game, with the NFC West set to be the most competitive division in the NFL.

The Cardinals pulled off a coup during the off-season by trading for star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and they now have a roster packed full of offensive talent.

They look to have enough to test a San Fran defence that was one of the best in the NFL last season and appeal at 50/57 starting with a +7 handicap.

The Niners struggled with the Cardinals at times last season, despite winning both matches, and with a limited stock of wide receivers to choose from, they might find it tough to pull away from Arizona.

Dallas Can Ram-Raid New La Home

The finale of the first Sunday of the new season comes from the new home of the Los Angeles Rams, SoFi Stadium, with the Dallas Cowboys the visitors.

The Cowboys are strongly fancied to make a Super Bowl run this year with Mick McCarthy, who lead Green Bay to a Super Bowl, now calling the shots as head coach.

McCarthy has inherited an excellent roster, particularly on offense with CeeDee Lamb drafted to join an already stellar receiving core. With quarterback Dak Prescott playing for a new contract and improvements made on defence, Dallas could prove tough to stop for a rejigged Rams team.

Sean McVay’s men went 9-7 last year but still found the going tough at times as they struggled to shake off their 2018 Super Bowl loss and got hammered 44-21 when they met Dallas in week 15.

With little time to bed in some exciting rookies on offense, the Rams could take a while to get going and the Cowboys are priced at 25/28 with a -2 handicap to spoil their first game at their new home.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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