On Sunday the Bucs will face the Saints for the second time this year. Can Tampa Bay beat New Orleans again, or will they fall to the power of the New Orleans passing offense?
interestingly that passing offense really is the only thing the Saints have going for them this year. Drew Brees has been supercharged by the addition of Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles, both key cogs in that offense. But aside from that passing offense the Saints don't have much going for them. Their defense has been horrid against the run and hasn't been anything more than average against the pass, while the Saints don't run the ball enough to make it a major part of their offense.
And that's where the Bucs can profit. They can run on the Saints defense, especially with Legarrette Blount returning from injury. They can also hurt them through the air - if Josh Freeman has a good day. He had his best game of the season against the Saints, but hasn't shined much during the rest of the season.
On defense the Bucs will have their work cut out for them, however. The Saints don't have a great run game especially so with Mark Ingram out, but they can pick up chunks of yardage with edge runs to Darren Sproles. The Bears were consistently able to get Matt Forte around end against the Tampa Bay defense, and if the Saints can do that with Darren Sproles the Bucs defense will have a real problem.
But the real problem will be stopping Drew Brees. Last time the two teams faced, Drew Brees threw three interceptions but had little problem moving up and down the field on the Bucs' defense. The Bucs specifically struggled to stop Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham. They tried to stop him with Ronde Barber, with Tanard Jackson, with zone coverage, with double coverage - and they didn't have much success all game.
Adrian Clayborn had a great game last time around, but failed to bring Drew Brees down. He should be poised to have a good game. Meanwhile, the Saints run defense has been downright terrible and Legarrette Blount should have a field day. Ultimately I don't think that will be enough to win, however, as the New Orleans offense is very hard to stop. I see the Bucs losing this 20-28, sadly.
What do you think will be the final score and who will have a good game on either side of the ball?