Saints at Buccaneers: Key Match-Ups to Watch

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Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Chris Conte (23) intercepts a pass in front of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Buccaneers defeated the Saints 26-19. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Saints Wide Receivers (Cooks, Snead, and Thomas) vs. the Tampa Secondary

It has been said that this is the finest group of receivers that Drew Brees has EVER played with over his entire career. But while Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, and Willie Snead have had good seasons, they have struggled mightily over the last few weeks.

Cooks’ unhappiness over his use, while probably overblown, has been on display over social media outlets. The more important fact is that all three young men have struggled to get any consistent separation from the coverages they have been facing.

Dec 17, 2015 St. Louis, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah (38) and cornerback Alterraun Verner (21) against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa’s cornerbacks are fairly young as well, but are led by a talented veteran in Alterraun Verner and have played extremely well over the second half of the season.

To make matters worse, Thomas may be severely limited due to a foot injury, if he is able to play at all.

Given the pressure that Brees is likely to face from the Tampa front, it is absolutely essential that this group gets back to making plays in the open field if the Saints offense is to be effective.