The start of the regular season is here and reporters from all outlets are releasing their predictions for the division winners and eventual Super Bowl champions.
Widely known NBC Sports reporter Peter King is no different. He’s been a staple in the sports world for what seems like forever, and he’s known the last four Super Bowl champions right from the start of the season. However, this year King doesn’t have as high hopes when it comes to how the Buccaneers will perform in the NFC this season.
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King’s NFC Predictions:
1. New Orleans (12-5). Note of the week: The Saints have beaten Tom Brady’s Bucks in all four regular-season meetings, and none of the four have been one-score games.
2. Green Bay (12-5). Minnesota threatens, but Aaron Rodgers figures out how to make Romeo Dubs a factor early and they go.
3. Philadelphia (11-6). DeVonta Smith/AJ Brown combined to average 14.1 yards per catch last year. Now Jalen Hurts has both.
4. LA Rams (10-7). This is still a very good team. But this is a very good team that faces a killer schedule, starting with the Bills in three days.
5. Minnesota (11-6). Is this the year Eric Kendricks finally gets recognized for being a top-five NFL linebacker?
6. Tampa Bay (10-7). Just too much hype and too many injuries surrounding this team. Talent and Brady make the Bucs still a factor.
7. San Francisco (10-7)*. We’re interrupting this never-ending quarterback story to remind you that the other 51 players on this list are pretty good.
*Tiebreaker: San Francisco over Dallas (10-7).
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Wild cards: Green Bay over San Francisco, Tampa Bay over Philadelphia, LA Rams over Minnesota.
Divisional: New Orleans over Tampa Bay, Green Bay over LA Rams.
NFC Championship, at New Orleans: Green Bay 30, New Orleans 17.
Peter King has the Bucs barely sneaking into the playoffs as a No. 6 seed with just 10 wins. It’s easy to see his understanding as the Bucs have one of the more difficult regular season schedules and all the drama and injuries that have occurred.
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The upside of his playoff predictions is that he sees the Buccaneers upsetting the 3-seeded Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round. However, things came to a rather sobering end as he saw them get swept by the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints in the divisional round.
The Saints compiled a mediocre record last season after starting quarterback Jameis Winston went down with a season-ending knee injury. With their quarterback leading a host of new weapons, it’s easy to see why King is so high on them this season.
King for the New Orleans Saints,
“I was blown away by the Saints this summer. I like how they turned a weak wide receiver corps in 2021 into the biggest strength on the roster with a big if Michael Thomas can return to health after two injury-riddled seasons, Rookie Chris Olave and comeback vet u home Jarvis Landry give a shot of adrenaline to the receiver group that will help Jameis Winston be the best he can be coming off his torn ACL. The Saints were smart to add insurance in top reliever Andy Dalton. It’s not called the team, and a bit of an elephant in the room: If Winston struggles or is uncomfortable, Dalton will be a good guy to take out of the fray to keep the Saints winning. One key question is how much Sean Payton’s offense will miss imagination. He was a bit of a mad professor in quarterback and offensive linemen. I wrote about this in 2018 – Payton once practiced a quarterbackless formation with Drew Brees and Taysham Hill split wide until the final few seconds of the play clock when Hill hustled behind center to take a direct hit and run with it. Will this be missed, or will offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael continue with the mind-blowing offensive stuff? We will see.
Peter King is correct in his assumption that the Saints are indeed a better team. However, I think he greatly underestimates the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers. The question marks are cause for concern — injuries, drama, a new head coach — but at the end of the day, the Bucs still have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL and should only continue to improve with the additions they made this offseason. Let’s also not forget that whatever Tom Brady is up to off the field will not get in his way as he is one, if not the best, at being able to focus on what is happening in the moment . It will be a wait and see when it comes to King’s prediction, but I’m still hesitant to leave the Bucs and praise a Saints team we haven’t seen fully put together yet.
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