The 0-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were winless in the NFC South last year and have a chance to steal a division win against the 0-1 New Orleans Saints on Sunday. What are the six things PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds is looking for in Tampa Bay’s upcoming game? Find out right here in SR’s Pick 6.

Who: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, La.
When: 1:00 p.m. ET – FOX
Last meeting: 23-20 loss at Tampa Bay in 2014
Series notes: Saints have a 29-16 advantage over Bucs all-time

Bucs FS Bradley McDougald - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs FS Bradley McDougald – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

1. COOL BREES WITH MULTIPLE INTERCEPTIONS
New Orleans has won the last seven games against Tampa Bay and has swept the Buccaneers the last three seasons. Yet the Bucs have come close to winning. The recipe to keep the game close and have a chance of winning is to intercept future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. The Saints won two close games last year – 37-31 (OT) at New Orleans and a 23-20 at Tampa Bay – but Brees was picked off three times in each contest, including a pick-six by linebacker Danny Lansanah in the Big Easy.

In the closest game between the two teams over the past four years, the Bucs lost 16-14 at Raymond James Stadium in 2013 but Brees only had one touchdown and two interceptions, including a pick-six by linebacker Mason Foster. In fact, the last time Tampa Bay beat New Orleans was at home in 2011, 26-20. You guessed it. Brees had one touchdown and three interceptions. He’s hard to sack and has a quick release, but when the ball is in the air, the Bucs need to take it away and have the athletes to do it.
Advantage: Buccaneers

2. WIN THE BOURBON STREET BRAWL    
The one thing that jumps out about New Orleans’ revamped defensive line is its size. Left defensive end Akiem Hicks is 6-foot-5, 324 pounds, while defensive tackle John Jenkins is even bigger at 6-foot-3, 359 pounds. Former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams is still a handful at 6-foot-5, 311 pounds. The smallest Saints starting defensive lineman is Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan, their best defensive player, who is 6-foot-4, 287 pounds. That’s 1,281 pounds of defensive fury that Tampa Bay’s offensive line will have to move out of the way to protect rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and pave the way for running back Doug Martin.

Right tackle Gosder Cherilus has to play better up front in New Orleans. The 31-year old Cherilus wore down in the second half and had two false starts, gave up two sacks and had a holding call. Rookie left tackle Donovan Smith will have his hands full against Jordan and rookie linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, who blitzes from the outside. Being able to win the battle of the trenches and establishing Martin and the running game for four quarters will minimize New Orleans’ pass-rushing opportunities.
Advantage: Saints

Saints WR Brandon Coleman - Photo by: Getty Images

Saints WR Brandon Coleman – Photo by: Getty Images

3. TAKE AWAY BREES’ NEW TOYS
The Saints traded away Kenny Stills, their leading receiver from a year ago (63 catches for 931 yards and three touchdowns) and leading touchdown producer in Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham (85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns). That should help the Bucs on Sunday, but New Orleans has replaced Stills’ speed with an even faster player in Brandin Cooks, last year’s first-round pick, and Graham’s size with 6-foot-6, 225-pound receiver Brandon Coleman.

This is Coleman’s first year in the NFL and he came through with four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in his debut last week against Arizona. His size presents a match-up problem for the Bucs as Tampa Bay only has one cornerback taller than 5-foot-10, and that’s Johnthan Banks, who is 6-foot-2. Cooks, who had 53 catches for 550 yards and three touchdowns in an injury-shortened season last year, will be the fastest player on the field. Look for New Orleans to try to match Cooks up against the slower Banks and Coleman up against the shorter Alterraun Verner. If that doesn’t work, Brees always has old reliable Marques Colston to throw to.
Advantage: Saints

4. HIT THE MARK ON DEFENSE
Running back Mark Ingram, a former New Orleans first-round pick, enjoyed his finest season a year ago with 964 yards and nine touchdowns – both career highs. Although he was held to just 24 yards on nine carries last week on the ground, Ingram showed off improved receiving skills with a career-high eight catches for 98 yards against Arizona, including a 59-yarder. While C.J. Spiller may be returning from injury this week and Khiry Robinson will also get a few touches, Ingram will continue to be the primary weapon on the ground for New Orleans.

Historically, Tampa Bay has done a good job of stopping Ingram, who has yet to rush for 100 yards against the Bucs in six previous meetings. In fact, Tampa Bay has been held under 25 yards rushing in four of those games. But with Stills and Graham gone, Brees will be relying on Ingram even more as a rusher and a receiver. Holding Ingram under 50 yards rushing and under 75 yards rushing will be key if Tampa Bay is going to have a chance of pulling off a super upset in the Superdome.
Advantage: Saints

5. MAKE THE JUMP, JAMEIS
Rookie quarterbacks usually make a big jump in completion percentage from their first NFL game to their second game – typically around eight percentage points. That would certainly be a welcome sight as Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston completed just 48 percent of his passes in last week’s 42-14 loss to the Titans. Winston’s first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and was one of two bad picks in his debut. Winston reverted to some bad habits, such as throwing off his back foot and needs to focus on his footwork in Week 2 as it got sloppy last Sunday.

With better footwork and better pass protection, especially from Cherlius, Winston should be able to complete between 56-62 percent of his passes against New Orleans, especially with its banged up secondary, which will be without starting cornerback Keenan Lewis and starting free safety Jarius Byrd. Vincent Jackson has always fared well against the Saints with 27 catches for 516 yards and one touchdown since joining the Bucs in 2012. He needs to step up for Winston more than he did last week (four catches for 51 yards), and Mike Evans, who is returning from a hamstring injury, needs to win his match up with 6-foot-4 Saints cornerback Brandon Browner and produce a 100-yard game.
Advantage: Buccaneers

6. STEP IT UP, SMITH
Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith wanted to take on more responsibility this year on defense by taking the play-calling duties away from Leslie Frazier and calling the defense himself. It’s only been one game, but it was a disastrous affair last week as the Bucs defense surrendered five touchdowns to a rookie quarterback, including four in the red zone. Smith got out-coached by Ken Whisenhunt last week, and it doesn’t get any easier this week going against Sean Payton. But hey, Jon Gruden, another high-paid, highly successful Bucs head coach, was up to the challenge during his tenure. It’s time for Smith to step up.

When his players lack fire, as was the case when Tampa Bay trailed 21-0 in the first half against Tennessee last year, it’s the job of the head coach to light that fire on the sidelines. While that might be out of Smith’s normally stoic character, he needs to come out of his shell more as a leader on game day to try to get his team to respond to adversity better.
Advantage: Saints

Because the Bucs vs. Saints game went to overtime last year in New Orleans, here’s an extra key to victory for Tampa Bay …

Bucs LB Lavonte David - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

OT – DAVID NEEDS TO BOUNCE BACK BIG IN THE BIG EASY
I want to start by saying I have all of the respect in the world for Bucs weakside linebacker Lavonte David. I think he’s one of the premier outside linebackers in the NFL today and has a chance to become a Buccaneers legend. Yet David might have played his worst game as a pro last Sunday in Tampa Bay’s 42-14 loss to Tennessee. David bit on several play-action fakes by rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, and was late getting over on touchdown passes to running back Bishop Sankey and tight end Delanie Walker.

David was given a very lucrative contract extension right before the start of the season and needs to bounce back from a five-tackle game in which he also forced a fumble. David needs to create more splash plays in New Orleans on Sunday if the Bucs are going to have a chance at ending their seven-game losing streak to the Saints. Given the fact that David and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy called a defensive players-only meeting this week, chances are that David will be ready to make up for last week’s performance.
Advantage: Buccaneers

SR’s Prediction: Saints 27, Buccaneers 24

Share On Socials

About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
Subscribe
Notify of
19 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
macabee
macabee
6 years ago

I’m going against the voodoo on this one and pick the Bucs 27, Saints 21. Rationale: As damaged as the Saints secondary is, if we can’t win this game, I think it forebodes a disastrous season. Who then, can we beat JAX, Redskins? I shudder to think!

georgehicks
georgehicks
6 years ago

Well Macabee-I think that’s a good score. But there is other factors here 1.Evans is back combo with Jackson. No#22 the new offensive linemen from Atlanta will con tribuate and #3 Tampa Defense is Better then Saints. I Hope Tampa wins this game. If So All Things the rest of the season Is Possible-Go Bucs

Roland
Roland
Reply to  georgehicks
6 years ago

I aspire to have a positive attitude. To be more like Mr Hicks.
I hope you are right George.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
6 years ago

I think we get blown out again. I predicted 31-14 Titans last week and underestimated our ineptness. Defense will be ok early. JW with another pick 6 and subpar play. He may get to 56-62% but it will be on check downs. He’ll throw more picks than TD’s tomorrow. My guess is 3 picks, 1 TD but will kill the post game press conference describing another loss while smiling the whole time. Saints 37-14.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  Bucnut2
6 years ago

Well Buc nut in hindsight you could’nt have been more wrong. But after watching your boy Mariota with a case of the fumbles all game, I think we’ll be ok.

martinii
martinii
6 years ago

I believe the Bucs will win. The team must be totally embarrassed by last weeks performance and somewhere between anger and pride they will find motivation. Go Bucs

Horse
Horse
6 years ago

I hope and want the Bucs to win. I’ll be so glad if they do because this would mean last game was just because the player weren’t up for the game for some unknown reason. Also Lovie will show us doubter’s his way will work.

skipper
skipper
6 years ago

would be nice if we only lost by three.

fredster
fredster
6 years ago

Love to be wrong and see an upset but I guess 34-17 saints. Bucs trail whole game and never in it.

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
6 years ago

As we’ve seen for years, the key to beating the Aints is getting pressure on Brees…hardly a better QB in the league if he’s given time in the pocket….that’s all…that’s the entire game right there…Smith and Johnson show up and we win handily, they don’t (again) and we get crushed….

Roland
Roland
6 years ago

The Saints stink.
But why oh why did Malcolm had a dagum STROKE.
So say it with me Bucs fans, “Oh No! We Suck Again!”
Bucs 16, Saints 34

scubog
scubog
6 years ago

After reading the remarks from their fans here no wonder the players have a defeatist attitude. I can just hear some of you as youngsters, react after your parents announce they were taking you to Disney World for the first time. “Oh no, it’s going to suck. Can’t I just stay here in my room holding my blankie? I don’t like riding in the mini-van that long cause I get sick. It’s going to be too hot there. I’ll get too tired standing in line. My friends say some of the people talk and look funny and that scares me.… Read more »

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  scubog
6 years ago

ramble anyone? ha

seat26
seat26
6 years ago

Offense will figure it out. I am much more worried about our Defense. IT doesn’t exist.

jongruden
jongruden
6 years ago

Saints 42 Bucs 13 Brees throws 400 yds and 5 td’s

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

This is going to be a game decided by the strength of the offensive lines…
Both teams have offensive weapons- we have Evans,Jackson,and ASJ- but no O-line. The Aints have at last count 397 players Brees can throw to.Both teams have questionable secondaries so the passing game will be a deciding factor- I just think our O-line is more suspect than theirs…Plus our QB is making his second start against Brees who is used to this pressure…
My hopes might be with the Bucs but my money is on the Saints…31-10

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

Someone make sure Lovie is awake this week –