Divisional Round Keys to the Game: Buccaneers at Saints

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are heading to New Orleans this Sunday to take on their rival, the New Orleans Saints. After getting blown out in the first two matchups, Tampa Bay is looking to give the Saints some of their own medicine.

Tom Brady has never lost to a team three times in a single season. But the Saints have this team’s number, winning the last five straight matchups.

The 38-3 beatdown in week nine might give some fans pause, but this team has come a long way in 10 weeks. Here is how the Buccaneers can hand it to New Orleans, and move on to the NFC Championship game.

Man Up

Pretty much every news outlet has been hammering this point home, but it’s because it was such a glaring weakness in the first two games. In week nine, Todd Bowles sat in zone for 75% of defensive snaps.

His defense would get shredded as a result.

You just can’t sit in soft zone and watch Drew Brees pick you apart. The Buccaneers drafted big, physical corners, who need to get their hands on opposing wide receivers and create havoc.

One of the biggest matchups defensively will be Devin White and Lavonte David versus the Saints’ tight ends.

Brees loves to exploit the middle of the field, which means the linebacking duo of White and David will need to play one of the best games on their career.

I don’t expect the Buccaneers to completely stop the Saints’ offense. All you can ask for is at least a slowing down of their efficient and high percentage plays down the field.

The deciding matchup will come on the other side of the ball.

Protection, Protection, Protection

Did I say protection enough? This offense will only go as far as the offensive line. Unfortunately, Alex Cappa going down due to injury will hurt, but Aaron Stinnie played well at times when thrust in the lineup this year.

The entire offensive line had the best game as a unit last week against the Washington Football team. They shut down five first-round picks, and it wasn’t an even matchup, it was a butt whooping.

The Saints have one of the most underrated defenses in the league, and it all starts upfront.

Tom Brady was sacked six times in their first two matchups, which is part of the reason why the offense was so erratic. The skill position players were also still understanding the offense.

That process looks to be over, as Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski have torn up teams over the past five weeks.

The offense will need to play close to perfect on Sunday if they hope to advance to the NFC Championship game. It’s time to punch the bully in the mouth, just like the 2002 Buccaneers did to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tampa Bay is 1-5 against teams with a winning record, prove to the fans you are for real and start Brees’ retirement party early.

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