What a cool weekend, it’s shaping up to be with our beloved Bucs fighting for a playoff spot Saturday afternoon and time with friends and family on Sunday for Christmas. Family is football and football is a family.
In the first matchup less than two weeks ago with the Saints, it turned out to be an unexpected defensive battle between two offensively gifted teams; which the Bucs took a 16-11 at the Pirate Ship. No coincidence, it also equated to one of Drew Brees’ worst career games going 25-47 257 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs with a horrendous 48.5 QBR; in a season considered one of his best as a pro.
The Bucs secondary was fantastic in keeping wideouts Willie Snead and speedy Brandin Cooks in check for the most part with 11 catches for 146 and no scores between them. Bucs corners were on point jumping patterns as both Brent Grimes and Keith Tandy did so for interceptions. The difference this time around will be a healthy rookie WR Michael Thomas to help take the focus off Cooks. With Thomas back out wide, he helped the Saints to a huge win out in the desert, beating Arizona 48-41 on Brees’ 486 yards with 4 TDs and no picks, after two terrible weeks for the Hall of Famer.
The Saints will dedicate themselves to slowing Doug Martin, with help from the offense they’re looking to hold him to a certain amount of carries (under 20). The consistent carries for Dougie regardless of YPC helps Jameis to sell his play action and get outside the pocket looking deep and we all know how deadly the Famous One is outside the hashes.
It will also be interesting to watch tailback Charles Sims continue to get incorporated back in this offense with his pass-catching and YAC abilities. Jameis just barely missed him for a couple big plays in Dallas last week.
In truth, highly unlikely we’ll see a 16-11 Bucs-Saints score again, especially with Brees’ and co. heating up again. Though, if the Bucs can garner those oh so precious splash plays (as Chucky would say), the same result is plausible. Doubtful, but possible. For Bucs fans, keep an eye on our defensive line early. If the pressure is there right from the start without bringing heat to rattle Brees in the pocket and get them off to a rocky start as the first matchup, it would bode very well again for us.
Hope your Christmas shopping is all finished and settle in Christmas Eve afternoon for an awesome NFC South war for our playoff hopeful Bucs! It’s a Bucs life baby!