The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added Antonio Brown to their already dangerous receiving core and it took the NFL world by storm.
How many weapons does Tom Brady need?!
Although it may seem like overkill, signing Antonio Brown makes the Bucs passing attack debatably the best in the NFL.
Does that make the Bucs the clear favourite to win the division? I wouldn’t jump the gun just yet.
At 4-2, the Bucs are only 1/2 a game ahead of the Saints for the division lead going into week 7. Let’s not forget that the Saints beat the Bucs in week 1 34-23 at the Superdome.
Since then, however, Drew Brees and the Saints have looked admittedly shaky. They lost back to back games to the Raiders and the Packers and just barely beat a rookie-led Los Angeles Chargers team.
Without Michael Thomas, Drew Brees has struggled getting the ball to his receivers. Despite an excellent start from Kamara, the Saints offense doesn’t quite look as explosive as we’ve seen in previous years.
Defensively, the New Orleans defense has struggled to stop anyone this season. They’ve given up the 8th most yards per game (337.4) and have allowed an average of 30 points per game, ranking them 24th in the league in points allowed.
Does that mean that they’re not a playoff team? Not at all. With Michael Thomas returning within the next few weeks, the Saints should pick up right where they left off last season, when they finished 13-3.
The Bucs, however, currently lead the division and have improved with the Antonio Brown signing.
Although giving Brady a shiny new toy on offense isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does not address their weaknesses. The Bucs were never short of talented wide receivers. Adding more weapons to an already stacked lineup is useful, but not a real priority.
On offense, there virtually is no weakness to address other than maybe running back and tight end now that OJ Howard is gone. Brady likes to go with 2 tight end sets, so a backup tight end could reap major rewards for the Bucs. The Bucs also rank 24th in rushing offense, barely eclipsing 100-yards on the ground per game. But Leonard Fournette should be fully healthy soon and that will change.
The Bucs could have went after a cornerback or a safety instead and improved on areas of bigger concern.
I don’t think that the impact of Antonio Brown changes the gap between Bucs and Saints very much. In order for the Bucs to become the clear better team, Brown will have to play at an elite level, similar to his days with the Steelers.
If Brown looks like he hasn’t lost a step, the Bucs offense will be too talented to not win the division. However, if Brown doesn’t make an impact, the Saints are still the better team.
They will matchup again in a few weeks in Tampa Bay. Hopefully by then Antonio Brown is fully accustomed to the Tampa Bay playbook and we can truly see if he can replicate his production in previous years.
If yes, the Bucs will be clear favorites to win the division. If no, Michael Thomas returns and the Saints continue to dominate the NFC South.