OH YEAH, IT’S TAINTS WEEK, BABY!
Even though it’s not a Tom Brady versus Drew Brees type of game, this is still a HUGE game for Buccaneers fans. It’s Saints Week! It’s practically a legal holiday around the Tampa Bay area. We may not have that marquis QB matchup, but what we do have is a chance to see our Buccaneers clinch their first NFC South division title since 2007 against our biggest rival. A rival —by the way—that the Bucs haven’t beaten in the regular season since 2018. However, I have a feeling that those tides are about to turn in Tampa Bay.
Since beating the Bucs in Week 8 to get to 5-2, the Saints have lost five of their last six games, with their only win coming last week against the 3-10 Jets. So let’s dive deep into this Saints team to see what the Bucs will be up against on Sunday.
Without Jameis Winston at quarterback, Michael Thomas out indefinitely, and Alvin Kamara battling injuries, the Saints have been struggling offensively this season. They are 23rd in total offense averaging 319 yards, including 198 yards passing (29th) and 122 rushing yards (14th), and 23 points (16th) per game. Trevor Seimian has been replaced by Taysom Hill at quarterback and he has passed for 439 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions while running for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns in the last two games. Despite playing in just 9 games this season, Alvin Kamara is still their leading rusher with 650 yards and 4 touchdowns while averaging 3.8 yards per carry. Their leading receiver is Deonte Harris, with 523 yards and 3 touchdowns; however, he has just been suspended by the league because of a DWI incident over the summer. Their next two leading receivers are Marquez Callaway (443 yards, 6 TD’s) and Kamara (335 yards, 4 TD’s). The Saints will also be playing without BOTH of their starting offensive tackles, so it’s looking like it’ll be tough sledding for this Saints offense going against a Bucs defense that’s had 20 sacks, 31 QB hits, and 135 QB pressures since Week 10 which leads the NFL.
The Saints’ defense, on the other hand, is still pretty good. They are currently ranked 11th in total yards allowing 340 total yards a game, including 245 passing (18th) and 95 rushing (6th). They’re only giving up 22 points per game (11th) and have forced 17 turnovers, including 14 interceptions. They have some studs on that side of the football. Linebacker Demario Davis leads the team in tackles (88). Defensive end Marcus Davenport leads the team in sacks (5.5), but Cameron Jordan is right behind him (4). Cornerback PJ Williams leads the team in interceptions (3), but Marshon Lattimore leads the team in passes defensed (16). They also have a couple of pretty good safeties in Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins. They’re good, but they are vulnerable. Since they beat the Bucs in Week 8, they have held opposing teams under 27 points just twice. The Titans scored 23 points in Week 10, and the Jets only scored 9 points last week. Other than that, they let the Falcons score 27, the Eagles score 40, the Bills score 31, and the Cowboys score 27 points.
WHO’S IN & WHO’S OUT
The only players that have officially been ruled “out” for this game are Jamel Dean with his “mysterious illness” and Breshad Perriman, who has been put on the COVID-19 list. Richard Sherman is listed as “doubtful” with a sore Achilles. The only other players on the injury report are Leonard Fournette, Jordan Whitehead, and Antoine Winfield Jr., who are all listed as “questionable” but have been practicing this week.
The Saints have three players that are officially ruled “out” for this game, including BOTH starting offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead, as well as tight end Garrett Griffin. Linebacker Kaden Ellis and wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey are listed as “questionable“. Also, in what may be the most important factor in this game, head coach Sean Payton tested positive for COVID-19 and has been put on quarantine, so he will not be in this game either — that one is HUGE. It was also just announced that their leading receiver Deonte Harris has been suspended by the league for the next 3 games stemming from a DWI incident in July.
The Saints have won six of the last thirteen NFC South titles, including the last four—but that was with Drew Brees at quarterback. Now that once steady QB position is in disarray, and the offense is following suit. With no Michael Thomas and now no Deonte Harris, the passing game is a thing of the past. They still have Alvin Kamara, and they’re getting back Mark Ingram for this game, so their running game is what the Bucs will need to worry about, especially with Hill at quarterback.
Mike Evans vs. Marshon Lattimore
Oh boy, it’s always fun to watch these two go at it; both of these guys are physical and fearless, which makes their meetings on the field pretty interesting; and sometimes violent. Evans has been getting the better of Lattimore lately, and I think that trend will continue in this game.
Donovan Smith vs. Cameron Jordan
Ever since Jordan made that smartass tweet about Smith being re-signed, he hasn’t done much to live up to his trash talk against the Bucs. And with the way Smith and Wirfs have been playing this season, I don’t see any reason why that would change. In any case, keep an eye on these two when they get lined up together because it should be fun to watch.
Tristan Wirfs vs. Marcus Davenport
Davenport leads the Saints with 5.5 sacks this season. That’s not really impressive, but with his speed off the edge that could change really quick. I don’t think it will happen against Wirfs, who’s been lights out this season. In just his second season, he’s already become one of the top right tackles in football. He’s only given up one sack this season, and he’s got one of the lowest percentages of QB pressures allowed in the league.
Devin White vs. Taysom Hill
Hopefully, Todd Bowles learned his lesson about NOT using a spy on mobile quarterbacks last week after Josh Allen ran for 109 yards on him last week. If he did, then I expect Devin White to be that guy who’s responsible for not letting Hill loose on runs.
Shaq & JPP vs. Backup Tackles
Oh, boy! These two have to be licking their chops for this game, now that BOTH of New Orleans starting offensive tackles have officially been ruled “OUT” for this game. The last time they faced a team without their starting tackles, they dismantled and destroyed Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl. Both of these guys should feast on Sunday.
This is a revenge game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not only do they get a chance to redeem themselves from that absurd loss in New Orleans, but they have the chance to clinch the NFC South against the team that has dominated that division for the last decade. They haven’t been division champs since 2007, AND they haven’t beaten the Saints in the regular season since 2018. That all changes on Sunday. Bucs win in convincing fashion!
Bucs 41 Saints 16
The Buccaneers had to sit there and watch the Saints locker room celebration, which; included Jameis Winston dancing around on crutches after that 36-27 loss in New Orleans. The visions of that ridiculous display have been replaying in the minds of every single Buccaneers player ever since. It’s been burning a hole in their gut for the last seven weeks. Now it’s time to make the world right again and set the record straight. Week 8 was a fluke. This Sunday, the Saints get a little taste of reality. So now that you know everything you need to know about this Bucs vs. Saints matchup, it’s FINALLY time to say…
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS, YOUR ASSES ARE ON THE CLOCK!
Written by Jonathan Hinkle