SINK OR SWIM: Saints at Buccaneers Game Day Prediction

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Oct 5, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) pressures New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) as he throws during the second quarter of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans offense vs Tampa Bay defense

The Saints offense acted like they had an extra bye week last Sunday, as they made the Detroit defense look like the reincarnation of one of the great defenses from NFL past.

This Tampa defense, while not statistically imposing, is playing extremely well. Their scheme is predicated on getting heavy pressure on the offensive backfield, led by all-pro Gerald McCoy.

Additionally, the Buccaneer linebackers, led by  Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, are among the most active in the NFL. They are playmakers in the passing game in particular, helping the Bucs to a top 15 ranking in pass defense.

The Saints offensive line will be missing tackle Terron Armstead, and possibly center Max Unger as well. Look for Drew Brees to take shorter drops, but quick down the field shots early to his wideouts in hopes that they will make plays in the open field; especially targeting Tampa Bay corners Brent Grimes and rookie first rounder Vernon Hargreaves.

If successful, this will hopefully spread the Bucs linebackers wider, thus opening up the middle of the field for patterns to Coby Fleener and Mark Ingram. Fullback John Kuhn could be Brees’ primary “check down” option here, since Fleener or possibly Brandon Coleman could take the routes usually reserved for rookie WR Michael Thomas, who might limited, or out altogether, with a foot injury.

The Saints running game, led by Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower, HAVE to be effective today despite the beat up offensive line. Tampa Bay’s rush defense is only ranked 25th, and repeated poor performance by the New Orleans line will almost certainly lead to another ugly loss.

Using another analogy as we did at the beginning of this article: “the Buc(s) must stop here”.