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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints: Probable starters and analysis

The Bucs aren't playing great, and they definitely have been way too sloppy on both sides of the ball. The Saints have some defensive weaknesses, but unless the Bucs can get out of their own way, it won't matter. Look for Saints quarterback Drew Brees to make the Bucs pay dearly for not sustaining drives.

Probable starters

Bucs offense

WR: Mike Williams 19

LT: Donald Penn 70

LG: Jeremy Zuttah 76

C: Jeff Faine 52

RG: Davin Joseph 75

RT: Jeremy Trueblood 65

TE: Kellen Winslow 82

WR: Arrelious Benn 17

QB: Josh Freeman 5

RB: Earnest Graham 34

FB: Erik Lorig 44

Bucs defense

LDE: Michael Bennett 71

DT: Frank Okam 98

DT: Brian Price 92

RDE: Adrian Clayborn 94

SLB: Quincy Black 58

MLB: Mason Foster 59

WLB: Geno Hayes 54

LCB: Aqib Talib 25

RCB: Ronde Barber 20

SS: Sean Jones 26

FS: Corey Lynch 41

special teams

P: Michael Koenen 9

PK: Connor Barth 10

KO: Michael Koenen 9

PR/KR: Preston Parker 87

Saints offense

WR: Devery Henderson 19

LT: Jermon Bushrod 74

LG: Carl Nicks 77

C: Matt Tennant 65

RG: Jahri Evans 73

RT: Charles Brown 71

TE: Jimmy Graham 80

WR: Lance Moore 16

QB: Drew Brees 9

RB: Pierre Thomas 23

FB: Korey Hall 35

Saints defense

LDE: Turk McBride 90

DT: Aubrayo Franklin 99

DT: Sedrick Ellis 98

RDE: Jeff Charleston 97

SLB: Scott Shanle 58

MLB: Jonathan Vilma 51

WLB: Martez Wilson 95

LCB: Jabari Greer 33

RCB: Tracy Porter 22

SS: Roman Harper 41

FS: Malcolm Jenkins 27

Special teams

P: Thomas Morstead 6

PK/KO: John Kasay 2

KR: Devery Henderson 19

PR: Darren Sproles 43

Stat pack

4:15 p.m., Raymond James Stadium, Tampa | Radio: 620-AM, 103.5-FM | Line, O/U: Saints by 5, 49½

Saints' best offensive player

Drew Brees, right, is the engine that keeps the Saints humming, teaming with aggressive play-caller Sean Payton to rip defenses leaguewide. Brees will throw early and often. He leads the NFL in pass attempts and completions. And he's great under pressure. His third-down passer rating is 149.9 — also tops in the NFL.

Saints' best defensive player

Jonathan Vilma has been the heart and soul of the Saints defense for four seasons while establishing himself as one of the game's best middle linebackers. He has surpassed 100 tackles in six of the past seven seasons and is on pace to get there again.

The Bucs must avoid …

Another early deficit. As the schedule intensifies — Saints twice, Bears, Texans and Packers in their next five games — it becomes increasingly difficult to overcome them. The Bucs fell behind 21-3 against the solid 49ers midway through the second quarter last week, and the game was all but over.

What the Saints do best

Play with offensive tempo. Because Drew Brees is so adept at running the offense, the Saints keep defenses guessing. It's why they have so many explosive plays. At the same time, those plays generally involve high-percentage throws. At 69.4, the Saints trail only the Packers in completion percentage.

You can beat the Saints if …

You keep their offense on the sideline, preventing it from getting into a rhythm. The Bucs, like most teams, will struggle if they attempt to win a shootout with the Saints. Coach Raheem Morris has conceded 300-yard passing games are probable when it comes to Drew Brees. So this is one of those days when a good offense really could be the best defense.

Prediction Saints 27, Bucs 21

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avg. passing yards

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avg. Rushing yards allowed

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110.8 (16th)

115.4 (14th)

123.4 (24th)

107.6 (15th)

225.8 (20th)

336.6 (2nd)

254.6 (20th)

247.0 (16th)

336.6 (20th)

452.0 (2nd)

378.0 (23rd)

354.6 (16th)

Injury report

BUCS Out: DT Gerald McCoy (ankle), TE Luke Stocker (knee), WR Sammie Stroughter (foot). Doubtful: RB LeGarrette Blount (knee). Questionable: LB Zac Diles (hamstring), LB Mason Foster (ankle). Probable: LB Quincy Black (ankle), T James Lee (knee), CB Aqib Talib (knee).

Saints Out: LB Will Herring (hamstring), T Zach Strief (knee), TE David Thomas (concussion). Probable: TE John Gilmore (neck), WR Devery Henderson (calf), LB Jonathan Vilma (knee), LB Martez Wilson (neck).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints: Probable starters and analysis 10/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 15, 2011 6:51pm]
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