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New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Game Preview

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Can the Bucs move to 4-6?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay’s secondary has to step it up this week.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers (4-6) snapped a four-game skid against the Cardinals (3-6-1) last week, but have a much stiffer test this week in the New Orleans Saints (8-2).

The Saints are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Falcons in which they only scored nine points against one of the league’s worst teams.

You better believe they are going to be pissed and ready for this one. When you have guys like Sean Payton and Drew Brees as your leaders, it’s hard to imagine this team will falter for a second straight week.

But that’s why they don’t play the game on paper.

Let’s dive in to this week’s preview.

Overview

  • All-time series record: The Saints lead, 34-21. They’ve won the last two matchups. Tampa Bay is 9-15 at home and 12-19 on the road.
  • Longest win streak: New Orleans took home seven in a row from 2011-2014.
  • Largest margin of victory: The Bucs took a 41-0 beatdown in 2012.
  • 2019 offensive and defensive rankings: The Bucs own the 7th-ranked offense (5th pass, 19th run) and the 25th-ranked defense (32nd pass, 1st run). New Orleans has the 14th-best offense (9th pass, 17th run) and boasts the 5th-best defense (10th passing, t-5th rushing).
NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Will Jameis be running for his life like in New Orleans?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What To Watch For

  • Injuries for the Saints: Andrus Peat and Marshon Lattimore will miss this game, which are two huge injuries for the Saints. Can the Bucs take advantage?
  • Bucs’ offensive line vs. Saints’ defensive line: The Saints took down Winston six times when the Bucs traveled to New Orleans a month and a half ago.
  • Bucs’ secondary vs. Saints’ receivers: Do I really need to explain this?
  • Penalties: The Bucs have 29 penalties in the last three games. They have to stay disciplined if they want to beat the Saints.

Impact Players

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • QB Jameis Winston: He was great in Seattle, but not so great against the Cardinals. He has to be great against the Saints.
  • WR Mike Evans: Who will guard this guy since Lattimore is out?
  • WR Chris Godwin: There’s little doubt that Godwin doesn’t benefit from the attention on Evans.
  • DT Vita Vea: He should have a huge day with Peat’s absence.
  • OLB Jason Pierre-Paul: Pressure on Drew Brees is the best plan to beat the Saints.
  • CB Jamel Dean: Can he take another step forward? This would certainly be a great week to do so.
NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans should have a big day.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints

  • QB Drew Brees: The Saints are 1-1 since Brees returned from his injury. He will be on a mission this week.
  • RB Alvin Kamara: As always, the offense flows through Kamara, so it’s imperative the Bucs get to him often and early.
  • WR Michael Thomas: The league’s best receiver will be a headache, as usual.
  • DE Cameron Jordan: He loves to play the Bucs and the results show.
  • LB Demario Davis: Davis is an absolute monster in the middle of the field. Put some respeck on this dude’s name.
  • CB Patrick Robinson: Will he be as effective as Lattimore?

Cool Stats

  • Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are just the fourth pair of teammates in NFL history to each have 800+ receiving yards through the first nine games of a team’s season (last, Demaryius Thomas, 1,002, and Emmanuel Sanders, 852, in 2014).
  • Jamel Dean is the first player in the NFL with four-or- more passes defensed in consecutive games since Jalen Ramsey in 2016 and the only Buccaneers player to do so since at least 2000. He currently leads all NFL rookies in passes defensed.
  • The Buccaneers have scored at least 30 points in each of the past two games. If Tampa Bay scores 30-or-more points against New Orleans, it will tie the franchise record for consecutive games scoring at least 30 points (also 10/25/12 at Minnesota-11/11/12 vs. San Diego; 9/21/03 at Atlanta-10/12/03 at Washington).
  • Winston has thrown for 17 touchdowns through nine games, tied for the fourth-most through nine games in team history. He needs two touchdown pass to tie Brad Johnson (19 in 2003) for third-most, three more to tie Winston’s own mark (20 in 2016) for second-most and and four more to tie Josh Freeman (21 in 2012) for the most passing touchdowns by a Buccaneers quarterback through 10 games in team history.
NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lattimore’s injury is a big, big deal.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Outlook

You have no idea how badly I want to pick the Bucs to win this game.

The injuries to Peat and Lattimore are very significant. Both players - especially Lattimore - dictate a lot of what the Saints like to do on offense and defense.

But the presence of Sean Payton should help nullify those injuries. Good coaches find ways to work around major injuries. We see it all the time in the NFL. I mean, the Saints overcame the injury to Brees earlier in the year, so there’s a direct example if you need one.

New Orleans still has its pass rush, too, which is one of the best in the league. They sacked Winston six times in the first meeting, so it’s not just the secondary that gives the Bucs’ offense fits.

If the Bucs can just cut down on the penalties and stupid mistakes, then they should win this game. That’s easier said than done, however, as the same mistakes that have cost them games continued to show in last week’s win against the Cardinals.

Tampa Bay will keep it close. I mean very close, but the Saints find a way to win at the end of the game.