Drew Brees spells it out cleanly: “It’s not even an option (losing). We got to find a way to win”

The Saints enter week 2 coming off of a season opening loss on the road to the Cardinals 31-19. The Saints are 7-1 in home openers under head coach Sean Payton.

It’s the second time the Saints host Tampa in a home opener. 2008 the last time where the Saints needed a fourth quarter comeback to win 24-20. New Orleans holds the advantage in the overall series 29-17 dating back to 1977 but as of late it’s been all Black and Gold. Last season, the Saints needed overtime at home to win 37-31 and closed the season with a comeback win in Tampa 23-20. The Saints have won the last seven meetings.

HOW THE SOUTH IS WON

Atlanta 1-0 Falcons @ Giants -2.5
Carolina 1-0 Texans @ Panthers -3.0
New Orleans 0-1
Tampa Bay 0-1

STORYLINES

There are always several storylines entering a game but three stand out to me from this week based on conversations with players in the locker room.

First last week meant nothing. I’m referring to the Bucs loss at home. QB Drew Brees was adamant that it would be dangerous to say ‘hey rookie Marcus Mariota threw for four touchdowns so what could Drew Brees do’. Brees brought up defenders Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy to go along with the closeness of recent games. Brees was picked off three times in the game in the Dome and three times at Tampa as well as being sacked twice. Mind you that was in a game where Tampa WANTED to lose to secure the top pick overall.

Pretty much every player that spoke to the media this week mentioned how they are not taking Tampa lightly. Safety Kenny Vaccaro expects Jameis Winston to bounce back from a debut that saw his first pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

Secondly, Brees and several other players were confident that past Sunday’s loss isn’t indicative of this team and that they can bounce back. Brees simply said he believes this team is better than the 2014 squad. Why does he feel that way? “Better people,” was his reason.

“We have a different personality this year as a team,” Bress explained. “ I think even the guys who were here last year who maybe had their struggles are light years ahead of where they were last year in regard to understanding what it means to be a part of this team. Just their pride in what they are doing their work ethic, their ability to take coaching, their ability to execute that. We understand the expectation level around here and I think the guys that maybe came in that didn’t’ understand it at first now do. Anytime you have young players winning breeds momentum, success breeds that confidence so the more that we can be successful, the more that we can win I think the more confidence we will gain as a team and the better we will do.”

The third storyline of note this week is trying to recapture the Dome Field Advantage. 11 straight wins and 20 under Payton, remember his 2012 suspension, it was solid streak. A new one started last season when the team lost five straight at home. Quarterback Drew Brees says he remembers that in most they were down early in games.

San Francisco (27-24 OT. 14-3 1st Q deficit, down 21-10 at the half)

Cincinnati (27-10. Down 13-3 at the half)

Baltimore (34-27. Saints led 17-14 at half, outscored 20-10 in the 2nd half)

Carolina (41-10. Panthers led 24-3 at half after a 17-0 1st quarter)

Atlanta (30-14. Falcons led 13-7 at half and had a 17-7 2nd half)

The Saints were outscored 89 to 37 in the first half of all five games they lost in a row at home to end the 2014 season. Safe to say getting off to a good start MAY be key this season.

THE ENEMY

Tampa enters the game (0-1) coming off a season and home opening 42-14 loss to Tennessee. It was the first career game for the 2013 Heisman winner and player selected first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft Jameis Winston. Head coach Lovie Smith is in his second season as head coach after a 2-14 season a year ago. While having only two wins they have LB LaVonte David and DT Gerald McCoy, a pair that can cause havoc. Offensively they feature a pair of 6-5 receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans to go along with a 6-5 tight end in Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO HAVE A GOOD GAME ON OFFENSE

54 yards rushing last week doesn’t cut it. I get the Cardinals have a good defense but the run game has got to be better. So I’ll put that as my understood. TE Ben Watson I feel can have a big game. The Bucs will have a good pass rush and Brees threw six picks against them last season. I feel they’ll pay attention to Cooks and look for the Saints screens. Watson should have one on one coverage and he looked good during the offseason. He could be a difference on the offensive side of things.

PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO HAVE A GOOD GAME ON DEFENSE

I feel like this could be a continuing theme this season. It’s DE Cam Jordan. He accounted for the lone QB hit last week but the defense recorded zero sacks. Winston threw two interceptions last week so he could be gun shy or pull the ball down to avoid turnovers. He is also a threat to scramble. Jordan has a contract that pays him like a top defensive lineman in the NFL. It’s time to show he is and be an impact play this defense desperately need.

X FACTOR

Safety Kenny Vaccaro is my X-factor this game. Payton on Monday said they have to find ways to get the 3rd year player closer to the line of scrimmage to make plays. Vaccaro could be used to blitz and also cover. I could see him picking off a Winston pass or causing a big play in a pressure situation rushing the passer.

HOW I SEE IT

Tampa did not look good last week but I agree with the players and coaches this week when they made it clear they can’t rest on the 42-14 loss to Tennessee. The Saints didn’t get drubbed in Arizona. The offense was 1-4 in the redzone and the defense after a leaky start settled down. Rookies will play better as the week goes on. Winston reportedly has stayed up to 2am most of the week reviewing game film. He isn’t as bad as he played last week. That said if he struggled at home, the dome on the road could be a challenge. I think the Saints cash in at least twice and defense hungry to show improvement at home makes a play. Give me a Hocker kick or two and I have the Saints 27-13 to improve to 1-1 on the season.

***Listen to New Orleans Saints football on 97.3 The Dawg starting at 10am on Sunday with kickoff at noon.***