Week 7: New Orleans Saints At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QuarterbackThe Saints got off to a miserable start and may not be able to recover. However, their explosive passing game remains intact. Drew Brees continues to put big numbers up as the Saints have the No. 1 ranked passing offense in the league, averaging 326.8 yards per game. Brees is smart, resilient and unfailingly accurate. He has a 14-to-6 touchdown to interception ration heading into Week Seven.Josh Freeman is coming off one of the best games of his career. In the Bucs’ 38-10 demolition of the lowly Chiefs, Freeman completed 15-of-26 passes for 328 yards with 3 TDs and just 1 interception. Freeman played with confidence and was the best player on the field. He has to show he can string big games together.
- OffenseThe Saints are all about making big plays on offense. The running game has not given the Saints much this season, but the combination of Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram have the potential to turn it around. Marques Colston is a dependable receiver who will usually catch anything he can reach. Jimmy Graham is an elite tight end who can stretch the field for Brees.The Bucs don’t have a great surrounding cast on the offensive side of the ball but the running back combination of LaGarette Blount and Doug Martin run with toughness. Vincent Jackson is a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but he is not consistent. The rest of the Bucs receivers are ordinary and so is the offensive line.
- DefenseThe Saints have been awful on defense, and that’s no surprise given the Bountygate Scandal that ripped the guts out of this team. They could get a lift if Jonathan Vilma returns from the PUP list and plays in this game. Strong safety Roman Harper is a big hitter who has registered 38 tackles so far. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has put together four consecutive double-digit tackle games.The Bucs are tough against the run but vulnerable to the passing game. This will put them in a bad position against Drew Brees. However, they are a hard-hitting team and head coach Greg Schiano has this unit playing much harder than the Bucs did a year ago. Middle linebacker Mason Foster may be a complete NFL unknown, but he lead his team in tackles with 43 and he is rarely out of position. If he keeps it up, they will take his picture off of the milk carton.
- Special TeamsThe Saints are not known for their great special teams, but Garrett Hartley has made 7-of-9 FG attempts this season and looks quite dependable. Thomas Morstead is a solid punter who is averaging 51.2 yard per punt. Darren Sproles has the potential to make big plays in the return game.Connor Barth is a strong-legged placekicker who has made 10-of-11 field goal attempts, including 3-of-4 from 50 yards or longer. Michael Koenen is just an ordinary punter and he rarely helps the Bucs win the field position battle.
The Bucs are coming off one of their most impressive games in years. They hammered the Chiefs on offense and defense and there was a new confidence not seen in Tampa for several seasons. The Saints are coming off a bye week following their first win of the season and they realize they are still one of the most explosive offensive teams in the league.