Bucs need a big game out of Evans

by Gary Shelton on October 30, 2021

in general

Evans has often struggled against Saints./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

On most fields on most Sundays, he is a terrific football player. Lean and tough. Quick and determined.

But against the New Orleans Saints, Mike Evans tends to turn invisible.

The Bucs, naturally, hope it will not happen again Sunday.

Evans, a Pro Bowl player who has been over 1,000 yards in all of his seven previous seasons.With 496 yards, he's a good bet to go over a thousand again.

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As good as he is, however, Evans has struggled against the Saints in New Orleans. In 2014, he was inactive for the first game. In 2015, he was shut out in the first game. In 2017, he was held to one catch. In 2019, he was shut out. Last. year, he was held to one catch for two yards.

There are factors. Evans' health. Opposing cornerback Mashon Lattimore. His quarterback. But the fact is that New Orleans has rarely seen Evans at his best. True, he had seven catches for 147 yards in 2018, but that was his only 100-plus game. He had 97 in 2016.

But for his career, Evans has just 45 catches in 13 games, a shade more than three per game.

We bring this up for a simple reason. Antonio Brown is out again for the Bucs, and there is no question he makes the team's attack more formidable. Granted, with Evans and Chris Godwin (and a returning Rob Gronkowski) no one is going to feel sorry for the Bucs. But Brown's loss takes away a burst of quickness from the Bucs.

As it is, the Saints are a good team, especially at home. Those who thought the winning would stop when Drew Brees left town were fooling themselves. James Winston can't carve up a team like Brees, but New Orleans has a lot of weapons remaining.

True, the Bucs' own defense looked better against Philadelphia and Chicago, but neither quarterback was able to carve up the Bucs' wounded secondary. Winston is capable of making some big plays.

Can he make enough of them?

With that defense, he can.

Prediction: New Orleans 26, Tampa Bay 24.

In other NFL games:

Atlanta 21, Carolina 20.

Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 20.

Dallas 31, Minnesota 24.

And in college games:

Michigan 28, Michigan State 20.

Georgia 38, Florida 14.

Clemson 30, FSU 13.

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