Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs opponent preview: Saints, Week 16

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2016, file photo, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees passes during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. At 37, Brees' skills do not appear diminished; he led the NFL in yards passing last season. He also is highly motivated because he is entering the final season of his contract. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File) NY192

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2016, file photo, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees passes during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. At 37, Brees' skills do not appear diminished; he led the NFL in yards passing last season. He also is highly motivated because he is entering the final season of his contract. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File) NY192

When they play: Week 14 (Dec. 11) in Tampa, Week 16 (Dec. 24) in New Orleans

2015 record: 7-9

Last time vs. Bucs: The Bucs split two games with the Saints last year, winning 26-19 on the road in Week 2, then losing 24-17 in Tampa in Week 14.

2016 outlook: After a 4-8 start, New Orleans won three of its last four to keep the Bucs in last place, but Drew Brees wasn't enough to overcome a porous defense that gave up an NFL-worst 29.8 points per game. The offense could be better still, but it will need to be as the defense isn't likely to be substantially improved.

Player to watch: Brees opened his NFL career 6-6 against the Bucs, but he's 8-1 since then, with last year's Bucs win ending a seven-game win streak for him. He's already the all-time passing leader in touchdowns (44) and yards (5,934) against the Bucs, beating Brett Favre on both counts in two fewer games.

Rookie to watch: Second-round WR Michael Thomas is another tall receiver in the NFC South to test those 5-10 Bucs corners. Keyshawn Johnson's nephew is 6-foot-4 and had nine touchdowns last year at Ohio State. Adding him and TE Coby Fleener, Brees seems good for another 5,000-yard season.

Key matchup: Saints defense vs. NFL record books. In 2012, a bad Saints defense set the NFL record by allowing 7,042 yards of total offense, and last year's Saints set another dubious NFL mark by allowing 45 pass touchdowns, just under three a game.

Familiar face: Backup QB Luke McCown played for the Bucs in 2007-08 and has had an incredibly long career as a backup -- his last touchdown pass came ... in 2007 with the Bucs. None in eight seasons since.

Cool stat: The Saints were the best third-down offense in the NFL in 2015, converting 47.7 percent of their third downs into first downs. The Bucs third-down defense will be seriously tested this season, as the Bucs face seven of the top eight third-down offense from 2015, with a combined 10 games against them. The Bucs offense finished 10th on third downs last season.

Bucs opponent preview: Saints, Week 16 09/08/16 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2016 10:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Koetter: QB Jameis Winston will start Sunday vs. Bills

    Blogs

    After five days of uncertainty, Jameis Winston will be starting at quarterback on Sunday as the Bucs play at Buffalo, coach Dirk Koetter announced Friday afternoon.

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston, shown against the Patriots two weeks ago, will start Sunday at Buffalo after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last week. Dirk Koetter announced that he was starting after watching him throw at practice Friday.
  2. Florida football has become something to be endured, not enjoyed

    College

    The Jim McElwain era at Florida is something to be endured, not enjoyed.

    Florida Gators defensive lineman Khairi Clark (54) leaves the field after the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. The Florida Gators lost to the Texas A&M Aggies 17-16 MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
.
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Most important stat in Bucs-Bills game

    Blogs

    Greg Auman talks about the uncertainty at quarterback for the Bucs as they go to Buffalo in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Interceptions, such as this one by Brent Grimes against Arizona, will be the most important stat in Sunday's game.
  4. Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'

    Blogs

    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
  5. Superiority complex: USF continues to battle schedule, expectations

    College

    Does USF deserve its No. 16 national ranking? Coach Charlie Strong says there's no doubt. He expects that his Bulls can match up with any Division I-A program. (Octavio Jones, Times)