Saints Roll Into Tampa Bay New Orleans Saints versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The New Orleans Saints will look to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and tally their fifth win of the year. The Saints nearly handed the Panthers their first loss this season this past Sunday; unfortunately, the Saints weren’t able to hold on to their late lead. It was a closely contested game however, and it makes me believe this Saints team is capable of putting up a fight with anyone.
The Saints will have to take on the Buccaneers without top running back, Mark Ingram. He was placed on the IR after tearing his left rotator cuff. Our thoughts are with him, and I am sure he will comeback stronger than ever next season. He was in the midst of his best season ever. He had developed into a dual-threat running back as he had accumulated 769 rushing yards and 405 receiving yards.
Running backs, C.J. Spiller and Tim Hightower, will now be in charge of spear-heading the Saints’ rushing attack. The Saints acquired Spiller this offseason, but he has hardly been used. He is an explosive, quick runner who is incredibly useful as a receiver out of the backfield. Hightower had his career halted by injury and was signed by the Saints after Khiry Robinson’s injury.
As usual, both teams will be dealing with injury. Buccaneers’ DE Jacquies Smith has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. He gave Drew Brees nightmares as he worked around Zach Strief last game. DT Gerald McCoy has been listed as questionable. For the Saints, DT John Jenkins has been ruled out with a concussion, and G Jahri Evans is out with an ankle ailment. LB Dannell Ellerbe finally looks poised to return as he is listed as probable. Last week he was listed as probable, but it turns out he was intended to be listed as questionable. He did not play last week. With Jahri Evans out once again, we should expect to see rookie OT-turned-G Andrus Peat to play LG once again.
The Saints will need the defense to step up if they want to win. Drew Brees and party typically do their job, but the defense needs to do their part. Tampa Bay has the 9th-best offense in the league. The more daunting number for Saints fans should be the Buccaneers’ 143.3 rushing yards per game. That is the 2nd highest average in the league. The Saints defense on the other hand, allows more rush yards each game than any other team in the league. It’ll be crucial for the Saints to stop Doug Martin who averages 5 yards a carry.
Jameis Winston, the first pick in the 2015 draft, has played relatively well this season. He has thrown for 2877 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He is more than capable of running the football, and he will need to be accounted for. He has run the ball into the end zone 5 times this season. Hopefully Brandon Browner has a better performance this week. He struggled last week significantly. Browner has a slightly better matchup with some of the Buccaneers’ big, physical receivers. Rookie CB Damian Swann’s return should also help the Saints defense.
As for the offense, the Saints will need to do what they do best, throw the ball. With Mark Ingram out, it will be significantly more difficult to run the ball. I hope Sean Payton uses C.J. Spiller more often, and I would love to see him catch some balls. I was impressed with the play of Brandon Coleman last week; he should see playing time as the Saints’ 3rd wide receiver. Willie Snead will also return to the lineup, making Drew’s life a little bit easier. Second-year WR Brandin Cooks has truly taken full form these past few games; he is currently at 840 yards and 7 touchdowns on the season.
This game should be a fun one. Despite the fact that the Saints’ have two more losses than the Buccaneers, they will certainly be able to compete. I expect a big time performance from Drew Brees and the rest of the Saints offense; I have the Saints winning this one 38-31. A late-game deep ball to Brandin Cooks will snap the Saints’ 4-game losing streak. I look forward to watching this Sunday, and go Saints! WHO DAT!!!