The New Orleans Saints are coming off a division loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints are still in the drivers seat but they have to right the ship by sinking the Bucs.
Tampa Bay Bucs Host The New Orleans Saints
New Orleans came off of a bye week and laid an egg against the Atlanta Falcons. While only one team, 1972 Miami Dolphins, has gone undefeated for the entire year the Saints should not have lost against the 1 – 7 Atlanta Falcons. Having said that, now what? The last meeting week to the Saints 31-24 with the home field crowd cheering them on in the Super Dome. Let’s take a look at this week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and where the Saints stand in the playoff hunt.
Offensive Side Of The Ball
Drew Brees is back and looking to improve vastly over his last performance. Drew threw for 287 yds with a completion rate of 71% and zero TDs. In Drew’s words this was “unacceptable.” Drew Brees is a veteran Hall of Fame caliber quarterback who should bounce back.
On the other side of ledger is Jameis Winston for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Winston leads the 5th ranked offense in terms of yards per game, this is deceiving. Since playing the Saints, Winston has thrown for 6 TDS with 9 Ints, which is a game killer.
Add in the fact that the New Orleans Saints backups, Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill are much better than Tampa Bay’s Ryan Griffin, and even Winston, makes this a no contest.
Quarterback Advantage New Orleans Saints
The loss of Andrus Peat showed against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints will more than likely turn to Will Clapp to step up and fill the slot. Brees was sacked career high of 6 times against Atlanta. That will not happen again and the Saints offensive line will adjust.
On the other side, Tampa Bay has allowed Winston to be sacked a league high of 34 times.
Offensive Line Advantage New Orleans Saints
Saints running back Alvin Kamara was coming off being injured against the Falcons and it showed. Kamara was held to 74 total yards which is a season low. Latavius Murry also only had 19 total yards. Look for the Saints to correct this let down. Add in the Swiss Army knife of Taysom Hill and the Saints have a potent running game.
Ronald Jones II is a good running back but he isn’t of the caliber of the Saints duo.
Tampa Bay’s leading rusher is Ronald Jones II, who’s now the team’s starter. He has 410 yards rushing on 103 carries, scoring four touchdowns. He’s added 201 yards in the receiving game on 16 catches.
Running Backs Advantage New Orleans Saints
This is probably the closest head to head on the offensive side of the ball.
Michael Thomas has been a beast all year long. Thomas is on pace to eclipse Marvin Harrison’s reception record of 143 and would rank 5th all time in yardage at his current pace. Drew Brees said that Thomas should be the NFL MVP for 2019 – 2020. Thomas is backed up by receivers who are not as stellar but certainly get the job done.
Tampa Bay has the #2 and #4 wide receivers in the league with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. They have a combined 1764 yds receiving. This makes it difficult to double team either of them which is why Tampa is #5 in passing in the league.
This will probably be the best competition of the game
Wide Receiver No Advantage To Either Team
Jared Cook started off the year slow for the New Orleans Saints but has come back from injury with a vengeance. Cook had his best game as a Saint against the Falcons. Cook is at 242 receiving yards for the year. He is a big target in the middle
Saints tight end Jared Cook is back from injury and had his best game as a Saint to date against the Falcons, catching six passes for 74 yards, bringing his season total to 242 yards through seven games.
O.J. Howard with the Bucs has 223 receiving yards for the year. He is certainly an excellent tight end but the Bucs lack depth at tight end.
Tight End Advantage New Orleans Saints
Offensive Side Of The Ball Advantage New Orleans Saints
Defensive Side Of The Ball
New Orleans failed to register a sack only for the second time this season last week against the Falcons. The New Orleans front four is set to rebound against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints best game this season, with 5 sacks, came against the Bucs in their first match up.
Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea and William Gholston anchor the defensive line for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This trio has totaled only three sacks this year plus 18 quarterback hits. During the last meeting, Tampa’s defensive line didn’t touch Bridgewater once.
Against the run, Tampa Bay leads the league by only allowing 77.8 yds rushing per game. The Saints are only one of two teams to rush for more than 100 yds against the Bucs defense.
Defensive Line Advantage New Orleans Saints
This is an area of strength for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Shaquil Barrett has 11 1/2 sacks through 10 games. Neither rookie Devin White or veteran Jason Pierre-Paul were available in the last meeting. This is the area of the defensive side of the ball that tips in the favor of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Linebackers Advantage New Orleans Saints
The absence of starting cornerback Marshon Lattimore is a possibility. Lattimore missed practice as a result of his hamstring injury twice this week. This pressed P.J. Williams shifted into action in Lattimore’s place. During the last meeting, Lattimore shut out Evans but that will be a tall order for P.J. Williams.
While the Buccaneers moved their secondary around this week this week, the Saints threw for 345 yards against the Tampa Bay Secondary.
Defensive Backs Advantage New Orleans Saints
Defensive Side Of The Ball Advantage New Orleans Saints
Return specialist Deonte Harris, for the Saints, missed both Wednesday and Thursday’s practices with a hamstring injury so he is doubtful.
Saints punter Thomas Morstead still leads the league in percentage of punts landing inside the 20-yard line, with 58.3% sailing inside the 20. Kicker Wil Lutz won the Saints’ special teams belt this week, scoring all of New Orleans’ nine points against the Falcons.
Tampa Bay’s kicker Matt Gay is 11th in the league in field goal percentage at 86.4%, while punter Bradley Pinion has placed 33.3% of his punts inside the 20. Their return specialist in T.J. Logan has 86 yards on punt returns and 255 yards on kick returns.
Special Teams Advantage New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints should rebound and win this game handily. Having said that, if the Saints take the Bucs lightly they could be in for a surprise.
New Orleans Saints 45 Tampa Bay Bucs 28
Advantage New Orleans Saints