Rebound game? Revenge game? Rivalry game? No matter how you look at it, the Saints will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what will be a crucial game for both teams. For the Bucs, every game is a must win with only four games remaining. If they can win out and get some help along the way, they could somehow work their way into the playoffs. For the Saints, they are essentially in the same boat in winning out. However, they need to keep winning in order to claim the #1 seed in the NFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Of course, they will need help since the Los Angeles Rams are ahead of them currently. Here’s to hoping the Bears and Eagles can help out the Who Dat Nation.
The Saints will look to bounce back from a forgetful performance against the Cowboys last week in which there was a lot of wrongdoing in that game. Furthermore, they want to redeem themselves from a humbling loss to Tampa at the beginning of the season. This time around, they will be facing Jameis Winston, who has been inconsistent all season. DeSean Jackson was ruled out for this game and OJ Howard is on injured reserve but they still have weapons in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate. Nonetheless, the Bucs are coming off a big division win over the Carolina Panthers, in which their defense had four interceptions off of Cam Newton.
Speaking of defense, the Saints defense has been playing phenomenal football as of late. In the month of November, they accumulated 12 turnovers and registered 20 sacks, with 13 of them coming in the last two games. Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins have been forces all season and have the potential to be Pro Bowlers. The addition of Eli Apple has drastically made a difference as well, with the team only allowing 17.7 points/game since he arrived. On the other side, the Bucs have one the worst defenses in the league. They currently give up almost 30 points/game, close to 400 passing yards/game and are in the bottom third in the league in rushing yards allowed per game.
The Saints lead the all time series over the Bucs with a record of 32-21. The last two season series have been split but before that the Saints had won 7 straight games from November 2011 to December 2014 and 10 out of the last 14 overall. The Bucs will not be taken lightly (see Week 1 if you please) and they should not be because they always come to play no matter the record or level of talent. Division games in the NFC South are always a battle and will not disappoint on any given Sunday.
Not only will the Who Dat Nation be facing a completely different Tampa team, they will also be facing the forces of Mother Nature. The weather is predicted to be 100 percent chance of rain and with a natural grass field, things will definitely be slippery all game long. In this situation, I would look for the Saints to get the ground game going early and often to control the clock and force the Bucs to throw the ball knowing they are not a very good running team. In addition, a Saints win or Panthers loss would clinch the division but we all know for a fact we want the W. We hope we can see the Saints defense from the last few weeks teamed with the Saints offense we know very well because I don’t know who that offense was last week, but I, for one, hope we do not see their ugly faces again this year.