Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Bucs vs. New Orleans Saints: Scouting report

The Saints believe they're finding their way after an 0-4 start. But they have deep-rooted problems on defense that don't seem easily repairable. They're allowing 172.8 rushing yards per game, creating an opportunity for the Bucs to get their 17th-ranked running game going. New Orleans' defensive breakdowns have put too much pressure on an offense that's still one of the best.

Saints' top offensive player

QB Drew Brees, right, remains at the top of his game despite a 58.9 completion percentage, his lowest since 2003. Brees, 32, and in his 12th season, has a quick release that neutralizes even the best pass rush.

Saints' top defensive player

Curtis Lofton, replacing the injured/suspended Jonathan Vilma at middle linebacker, has stepped right into the middle of the defense and leads the club in tackles with 54.

Bucs must avoid ...

Getting too far away from their running game. This game provides an opportunity to get both Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount going.

What the Saints do best

The Saints can throw the ball with the best of them. Drew Brees has thrown a touchdown in an NFL-record 48 consecutive games, and the passing offense is first in the league. The running game, though, has been disappointing.

How you beat the Saints

Move the ball consistently, which is possible given the weaknesses of their defense. Keeping QB Drew Brees on the sideline is the best defense.

Projected starters

BUCS

OFFENSE

WR: Vincent Jackson

LT: Donald Penn

LG: Carl Nicks

C: Jeremy Zuttah

RG: Jamon Meredith

RT: Demar Dotson

TE: Dallas Clark

WR: Mike Williams

QB: Josh Freeman

RB: Doug Martin

FB: Erik Lorig

DEFENSE

LDE: Michael Bennett

DT: Gerald McCoy

DT: Roy Miller

RDE: Daniel

Te'o-Nesheim

SLB: Quincy Black

MLB: Mason Foster

WLB: Lavonte David

CB: E.J. Biggers

CB: Eric Wright

SS: Mark Barron

FS: Ronde Barber

special teams

PR: Roscoe Parrish

KR: Arrelious Benn

PK: Connor Barth

P/KO: Michael Koenen

SAints

OFFENSE

WR: Marques Colston

LT: Jermon Bushrod

LG: Ben Grubbs

C: Brian De La Puente

RG: Jahri Evans

RT: Zach Strief

TE: David Thomas

WR: Devery Henderson

QB: Drew Brees

FB: Jed Collins

RB: Darren Sproles

DEFENSE

LDE: Cameron Jordan

DT: Brodrick Bunkley

DT: Sedrick Ellis

RDE: Will Smith

SLB: Scott Shanle

MLB: Curtis Lofton

WLB: Jonathan Casillas

CB: Jabari Greer

CB: Patrick Robinson

SS: Roman Harper

FS: Michael Jenkins

special teams

PR: Darren Sproles

KR: Darren Sproles

PK: Garrett Hartley

P/KO: Thomas Morstead

Injury report

Bucs Probable: WR Vincent Jackson (calf), G Carl Nicks (foot).

Saints Out: LB David Hawthorne (hamstring), TE Jimmy Graham (ankle). Probable: RB Travaris Cadet (shoulder), LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), G Jahri Evans (toe), CB Jabari Greer (groin), DE Turk McBride (ankle), WR Lance Moore (hamstring), LB Scott Shanle (illness).

Stat pack



1 p.m., Raymond James Stadium, Tampa | TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM | Line, O/U: Saints by 2, 49½

Prediction

Bucs 29, Saints 27

Rushing yards

passing yards

total yards

Rushing yards allowed

passing yards allowed

total yards allowed

Bucs

Saints

101.8 (17th)

75.2 (30th)

211.6 (25th)

326.8 (1st)

313.4 (27th)

402.0 (4th)

75.0 (3rd)

172.8 (31st)

312.2 (31st)

283.2 (26th)

387.2 (25th)

456.0 (32nd)

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