For the third time this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off against division rival New Orleans. As far as results go, it’s hard to look at previous matchups and be positive about the outlook this Sunday.
Week 1: Saints 34 Buccaneers 23
- Tom Brady’s first game as a Buccaneer. Proceeds to throw two Touchdowns, two Interceptions, one for a pick-six, with a 63% completion rate for the day
- Defense plays well despite what the score says. Less than 200 yards passing allowed. Only 33% allowed on third-down conversions. Forced 6 punts.
- Turnovers and penalties killed the chance for a comeback.
Week 9: Saints 38 Buccaneers 3
- Anything that could go right just decided to go wrong.
- 0.1% success on third down
- Only 8 yards Rushing
- 3 Interceptions and no points off Saints turnovers
If you’re looking for some good news then from an injury standpoint there’s very little. Michael Thomas was slated as a potential OUT for this game, but it appears he will be suiting up. Taysom Hill was also questionable and remains so, though he has been limited as opposed to OUT in practice.
Barring any new setbacks, the only sure absence this Sunday for New Orleans is cornerback Patrick Robinson.
For the Buccaneers, it’s a little less of a rosy outlook. Offensive guard Alex Cappa, who has elevated his play immensely this season, is going to miss the game with a broken ankle.
Running Back Ronald Jones II is questionable for Sunday, giving Leonard Fournette the start for the third straight week. Also, but not as concerning and are likely rest days, Chris Godwin, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh were all OUT yesterday but are all expected to play.
What We Can Expect
When trying to project expectations for a Buccaneers playoff game, we do not have a lot to go off. We can expect the Bucs to be viewed as the underdogs going into New Orleans and against a team that has dominated them all year.
Drew Brees is healthy and Sean Payton will almost certainly have a game plan to dismantle a predictably aggressive Bowles defense. The Buccaneers coaching staff will have to remain aggressive, but not predictable. This Saints offense loves to take the legs off a defense before taking off the head by going deep.
Their defense ended the regular season as the #2 ranked defense in total yards allowed and blitzed on 38% of snaps called.
Last week, the Buccaneers faced the 6th ranked sacks per game defense in Washington and allowed three sacks, but none to star rookie Chase Young who was mostly silent the entire game. Left tackle Donovan Smith is peaking at the right time and Rookie Right Tackle Tristan Wirfs has been stellar all year. For Brady to avoid a multi-interception game, the guys up front are going to have to stay hot and keep the Saints out of his pocket for the entire 60 minutes.
With Ronald Jones unsure as to whether he will play or even be 100% healthy, it will be difficult to imagine too much weight being put on the run game Sunday. Here’s hoping that Tom Brady holds off father time for yet another playoff run. All signs are pointing that way.