The New Orleans Saints already beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once this season but the Bucs are still a matchup nightmare for the 7-2 Saints.
The New Orleans Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the season pretty resoundingly with their backup quarterback. Despite the team dropping an ugly game to the Atlanta Falcons, Saint fans have to like their chances against the Bucs.
However, history says that Saint fans should be wary of being confident. The Saints have gone 1-1 against the Buccaneers in each of the last four seasons. With a win under their belt already, it appears as if the Saints are due for a loss.
Realistically, that does not mean anything as the Saints can break a trend just as easily as one could be created. Although, the Buccaneers do present a dangerous matchup for the Saints that could lead to this trend being continued.
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The Saints are the better overall team, as was the case against the Falcons. Matchups make games, though, and the Bucs are matched up pretty nicely in this game despite losing the first contest of the year.
Defensively, the Buccaneers have what it takes to stagger the Saints early and force them to play from behind the rest of the game. Tampa Bay allows the fewest rushing yards per game and has an elite linebacker group that is going to give the Saints’ fits in multiple areas.
Not only is that linebacker group capable of stopping the run, but Bruce Arians and company can also bring pressure on Drew Brees. The team is not ranked high in the sacks list, ranked 19th, but neither were the Falcons and they sacked Brees six times.
The Bucs have a better pass rush than the Falcons and although the Saints offensive line has been great all year, there is a big reason to be concerned. There is a chance that Andrus Peat does not play in this game.
Why is that important? Peat left both games that the Saints lost with an injury and in both games, the Los Angeles Rams and Falcons were able to pressure the quarterback. If he is out this game that gives more opportunity to Ndamukong Suh and Co.
The Bucs do not have a great secondary, which will be the key to this game, but if they can get enough pressure on Brees and really hone in on Michael Thomas and make the rest of the receiving corps beat them then there is a chance that the Saints get off to yet another slow start.
Offensively, although the Bucs have the most inconsistent quarterback in the league in Jameis Winston, they have the weapons to hurt the Saints. Most notably, the Bucs have the best 1-2 receiving punch in football in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, who will feast on the Saints if Marshon Lattimore is out.
Marcus Williams has been great and Vonn Bell is fine, but the safeties won’t be enough to help Eli Apple and Patrick Robinson if he even plays in this game. One of the two is bound for a big day if Lattimore does not play.
They also finally have a somewhat decent run-game, which is nothing that should scare the Saints but is something that can open the playbook for Winston.
If the Saints get on the board early then they will be just fine. However, all the writing is on the wall for the Saints to endure yet another slow start, the Bucs to stun them and then the Saints will be forced to play catch-up the entire game.
When that happens the running game is often taken out completely, which could be a detriment to the team if the Bucs can get pressure to Brees.
A touchdown on the first drive, a defensive stop and then a big play from either of the receivers to go up 14-0 could easily happen in the blink of an eye. From there, Brees and the offense have to come back in an outdoor stadium, which has made a difference in his career.
That is what the New Orleans Saints should be scared of. The Saints are the better team, but the Bucs can easily jump out early and maintain the lead.