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Bucs-Saints: Scouting report

Projected starters

BUCS

Offense

WR: Vincent Jackson 83

LT: Donald Penn 70

LG: Ted Larsen 62

C: Jeremy Zuttah 62

RG: Davin Joseph 75

RT: Demar Dotson 69

TE: Tim Wright 81

WR: Tiquan Underwood 11

QB: Mike Glennon 8

RB: Bobby Rainey 43

FB: Erik Lorig 41

Defense

DE: Daniel Te'o Nesheim 50

DT: Gerald McCoy 93

DT: Akeem Spence 97

DE: Adrian Clayborn 94

SLB: Dekoda Watson 56

MLB: Mason Foster 59

WLB: Lavonte David 54

CB: Darrelle Revis 24

CB: Johnthan Banks 27

SS: Keith Tandy 37

FS: Dashon Goldson 38

Special teams

P/KO: Michael Koenen 9

PK: Rian Lindell 4

LS: Andrew Economos 48

KR/PR: Eric Page 17

Saints

offense

WR: Marques Colston 12

LT: Terron Armstead 72

LG: Ben Grubbs 66

C: Brian De La Puente 60

RG: Jahri Evans 73

RT: Zach Strief 64

TE: Jimmy Graham 80

WR: Kenny Stills 84

QB: Drew Brees 9

RB: Pierre Thomas 23

WR: Lance Moore 16

defense

DE: Akiem Hicks 76

NT: Brodrick Bunkley 77

DE: Cameron Jordan 94

OLB: Junior Galette 93

ILB: David Hawthorne 57

ILB: Curtis Lofton 50

OLB: Parys Haralson 98

CB: Corey White 24

CB: Keenan Lewis 28

SS: Kenny Vaccaro 32

FS: Malcolm Jenkins 27

Special teams

P/KO: Thomas Morstead 6

PK: Shayne Graham 3

LS: Justin Drescher 47

KR/PR: Darren Sproles 43

Injury report

BUCS Out: S G Carl Nicks (foot). Questionable: S Mark Barron (hamstring), LB Ka'Lial Glaud (knee), LB Dekoda Watson (groin). Probable: LB Lavonte David (elbow), G Davin Joseph (knee), DT Akeem Spence (wrist).

Saints — Probable: T Terron Armstead (shoulder), QB Drew Brees (knee), S Rafael Bush (ankle), WR Marques Colston (back), LB Keyunta Dawson (calf), G Jahri Evans (knee), TE Josh Hill (hamstring), LB Kevin Reddick (shoulder), RB Pierre Thomas (eye).

4:25 p.m., Superdome | TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM, 95.3-FM | Line, O/U: Saints by 12, 47½

It's a chance for the Bucs to end a disappointing 2013 on an upswing. It won't be easy, facing a New Orleans team that is 7-0 at home. The Bucs did well to play to a 16-14 loss — on a last-second field goal — in Tampa in Week 2. But that was a much different Tampa Bay roster.

What the Saints do best

Put up ridiculous offensive numbers, especially at home. QB Drew Brees, right, would have a case for MVP if it weren't for Peyton Manning. He has 35 touchdowns, 4,781 yards and 12 interceptions. The depth of New Orleans' offensive threats is daunting. Seven players are capable of scoring multiple touchdowns in a game.

How you beat the Saints

The teams' first meeting is a good model: force turnovers, limit mistakes and throw in an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown, if possible. New Orleans is 7-0 at home and averaging 22 points more per game there than on the road. So the best way to beat the Saints is not to play them in the Superdome.

Saints' top offensive player

Given the teams' first game, go with TE Jimmy Graham, who had 10 catches for 179 yards, including a 56-yard TD. He leads the team with 81 catches for 1,144 yards and an NFL-best 15 TD. The Bucs will do well keeping him from his seventh 100-yard game.

Saints' top defensive player

DE Cameron Jordan has 121/2 sacks, and he has had at least one sack and a forced fumble in his past three games against the Bucs. After seeing St. Louis DE Robert Quinn pile up three sacks last week, Tampa Bay LT Donald Penn has another tough challenge to end his long season.

The Bucs must avoid …

An early letdown that brings the crowd into the game and gives New Orleans the confidence of a lead. The defense must be on from the start. The Saints had 29 points in their past two losses combined. But those were on the road, where they're a much different team.

The pick

Saints 31, Bucs 13

Unit rankings

OFFENSEDEFENSE
Run PassTotalRunPassTotal
Bucs102.5 (22nd)173.7 (32nd)276.2 (32nd)110.9 (17th)229.1 (t15th)340.0 (13th)
Saints91.7 (25th)303.2 (2nd)394.9 (5th)114.1 (19th)192.7 (2nd)306.8 (4th)

Bucs-Saints: Scouting report 12/28/13 [Last modified: Saturday, December 28, 2013 9:24pm]

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