Week 15: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At New Orleans Saints
- QuarterbackJosh Freeman has gotten the job done for the most part. He has thrown for 3,003 yards and has a 23-8 TD-interception ratio. Freeman has size, athletic ability and physical strength. He also has a big arm and when he feels comfortable in the pocket, he is quite accurate. Freeman can pick up yards on the ground when he needs to get out of the pocketDrew Brees has been struggling badly in recent weeks. He has been throwing interceptions that have played a big role in the Saints losing three games in a row. However, Brees is going through a slump. There’s nothing wrong with him and he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He should be able to get back on track against the Bucs.
- OffenseThe hard running of Doug Martin has given the Bucs a running attack that can punish opponents. Vincent Jackson is one of the best big-play receivers in the league. Jackson has size, strength and long arms. When he senses he has the defensive back at a disadvantage, the Bucs will look to him for explosive plays. Mike Williams is also one of Freeman’s top receivers.Few teams have the strength at the receiver position that the Saints have on an every-week basis. Marques Colston has been the Saints’ most dependable receiver for years, but newcomer Joe Morgan has the kind of speed to break big plays. Lance Moore can make tough catches on third-down plays and tight end Jimmy Graham can punish any team’s secondary.
- DefenseThe Bucs give up a lot of yards through the air. The Bucs are dead last in passing yards allowed this season and 30th in overall defense. Linebacker Lavonte David is an honest football player who is a solid tackler and leaves it all on the field every game. The Bucs need a lot more players who have David’s work ethic.The Saints have been one of the most generous defenses in the league, but they are hard hitting. After losing three straight, look for the Saints defense to try to punish the Bucs. The Saints have been looking at middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and strong safety Roman Harper for leadership. Lofton leads the team in tackles with 110 stops, while Harper has 97 tackles and 12 passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Bucs have given up huge chunks of yardage on specials teams. Michael Koenen is a decent punter, but opponents are averaging 10.9 yards per punt return. Connor Barth has made 23-of-28 FG attempts, including 6-of-9 from 50 yards and beyond.The Saints are coming off a disastrous special teams effort against the Giants as they gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown to speedy David Wilson and another long kickoff return as well. They were particularly vulnerable at giving up return yards up the middle. That regularly indicates that improved effort is needed. Garrett Hartley has made 13-of-16 FG attempts this season.
The Saints were surging for a while, but a three-game losing streak means they are not going to play postseason football. They should be more comfortable at home and the Tampa Bay defense should be quite generous and allow Brees to get back on track. New Orleans may take a long season’s worth of frustrations on the Bucs.