Make no mistake about it, this is a big game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and if they can find a way to win, they will be a game out of the playoffs with three games remaining.
The Buccaneers will be playing host to th 10-2 New Orleans Saints on Sunday. These teams last faced off in week 1, where the Buccaneers picked up a 48-40 road win.
Both teams wont put up a combined 88 points again, but if the Buccaneers who are currently 9 ½ point underdogs want to pull of the upset, here are the keys to the game.
- Win the turnover battle: I know, its cliche, but I think this is there only shot to win this game. Over the last two weeks, Tampa Bay is +6 in the turnover battle and what do you know, they are 2-0 in those games. The defense must force a mistake or two, whether it be a fumble or interception and the offense must take care of the football. You aren’t going to have a repeat performance of last Sunday when the defense forced four turnovers, but it needs to be similar to week one, where they forced two crucial fumbles. If the Buccaneers are +2 in the turnover margin, they will have a chance to win this game in the fourth quarter.
2. Establish some sort of run game: Look, the Buccaneers won’t be a dominant running team the last four games of the season, but in order to beat the Saints, you need to keep Drew Brees off the field. Dirk Koetter cannot abandon the run game unless the team is down by multiple scores. If Peyton Barber can get 3-4 yards per carry throughout the game, especially on first downs that would be a huge success for this offense and would help set up one on one matchups on the outside in the play action passing game. Run the clock a bit more than usual in this one.
3. Red Zone defense: It’s no secret, the Saints will be able to move the ball against the Buccaneers defense. Heck, the Carolina Panthers had over 440 yards of offense last week, so there is no reason to think the Saints can’t do the same. The key will be holding them to field goals instead of touchdowns. The Buccaneers are allowing touchdowns on 85.37% of RZ trips this season, which is dead last in the NFL, by a wide margin. That cannot be the case on Sunday.
4. Don’t kill drives with penalties: This also isn’t a secret, the Buccaneers will be able to move the ball on Sunday. Too many times we have seen drives stall or result in field goals because of bad penalties on the offensive line. You cannot beat a 10-2 team by ruining drives with dumb penalties. Play smart clean football along the O-line and let Winston march the boys down the field.
5. Get some sort of pressure on Drew Brees: We saved possibly the most important aspect of the game for last. Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the league at getting the ball out quick. The defensive line needs to show up in this game for all four quarters and be relentless with their pass rush. You don’t necessarily have to get 4-5 sacks, but if you can effect some throws like they did last week, you will at least limit the big play ability from the Saints.