The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back…. kind of. At 5-7 they are technically in the hunt. To reach the playoffs this year they will likely need to win out, going 9-7. However, their schedule does not get any easier in the next four weeks. This Sunday’s opponent is a division rival that they have already defeated in Week One this season.  The Saints are coming off their second loss this season.

Did the Cowboys give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a better blueprint on how to beat New Orleans? Let’s look at some stats and find out.

Like the 49ers game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have now had back to back complete football games. All three phases of the game were efficient and their lone offensive turnover was iffy at best. Jameis has one turnover since returning in the Giants game on a last-second heave, and the offense has been producing at a steady pace.

The Buccaneers are a completely different team at home surrendering under 20 points per game. They are 4-2 at home this season with their two losses coming against the Steelers and Redskins. The Saints lost their first road game this week against the Cowboys and will need to bounce back if they want to keep pace with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Saints are one of the best teams in the league but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to have their number winning their past two meetings. The Bucs are 2-1 in Tampa in their last three so they’ll look to extend the streak this weekend.

SAINTS OFFENSE

The Saints offenses are one of the scariest in the league. New Orleans has the sixth most yards per game, second most points per game and the second highest 4th down conversion rate. They have a bevy of weapons for Drew Brees to utilize and can run it when they need to.

Drew Brees is having another amazing season and is a serious contender for MVP. Brees currently leads the league in passer rating, completion percentage, and is 11th in total passing yards, only one yard away from being in the top ten. With three interceptions, Brees has the second fewest for starting quarterbacks behind only Aaron Rodgers. The Buccaneers got four interceptions off Cam Newton this past weekend so don’t look for them to repeat that type of game. Brees has never gone against the legend that is Andrew Adams, so maybe the Bucs can keep the multi-turnover streak alive this Sunday.

The Saints offensive line is one of the best in the league allowing a league-low 13 sacks and allowing the running backs to get the 9th most yards on the ground. Brees gets the ball off quick so the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recent success rushing the passer may end this week as well.

GROUND GAME

The Saints have Mark Ingram for this game against the Bucs, who they didn’t have week one in New Orleans. In that week one matchup the Saints only ran the ball 13 total times but Alvin Kamara found the end zone twice on the ground. Kamara has 11 rushing touchdowns this season while averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Mark Ingram is having a productive season even missing the first four games. He has 467 yards, 25th most in the league, and four touchdowns.

The Saints running backs can make plays all over the field and catch the ball as well. The Bucs linebackers need to be on top of their game if they want to contain them

RECEIVING THREATS

The Saints don’t have the biggest names outside of Michael Thomas but they do have Michael Thomas. Thomas is currently third in the league in receptions, fourth in yards, and eighth in touchdowns. He is currently one of two players in the top eight in each category, Davante Adams is the other. Behind Thomas, the Saints only have one player with more than 30 catches, Kamara, but they have 13 total players with a receiving touchdown this season. Big play threat Tre’Quan Williams is averaging 17 yards per catch and has the famous Brees record-breaking touchdown.

The Saints may not have the names they used to have on the outside but Brees makes the most with what he’s got. Eight players have more than 10 catches and ten have more than 100 yards. He dinks and dunks all over the field and doesn’t make mistakes. When their receivers get open Bress can get them the ball.

SAINTS DEFENSE

The Saints are smack dab in the middle on defense. They rank 16th in total yards. They’re the top-ranked rushing defense but the 30th ranked pass defense. These numbers are skewed due to their offense being so proficient. When teams need to come back from huge deficits they have to abandon the run game and focus on the pass. However this past Thursday against the Cowboys, The Cowboys controlled the clock rushing it 31 times.

The Saints have the 13th best scoring defense in the NFL allowing 22.4 points per game. They actually better defensively on the road at home allowing only 20.8 games while outside the Super Dome. These numbers are skewed slightly because they have not played many high powered offenses compared to when they were at home.

The Saints defense currently only has one real stand out player. Cameron Jordan, defensive end, is having another productive season with 10 sacks, 37 tackles, and a forced fumble. The Saints defense has 19 turnovers, 10 interceptions, and 9 fumbles, which ranks 12th in the league. Their offense doesn’t turn the ball over and their defense is more than capable of forcing mistakes so the Bucs better be on top of their game if they want a chance to win.

SAINTS SPECIAL TEAMS

The New Orleans Saints special team is fairly one-sided, mainly because they score so much they don’t need to punt. Wil Lutz is one of the most consistent kickers in the league. He has the third highest field goal percentage with 95.8%. With 44/45 extra points, he has the second most made PATs and the highest percentage for a kicker with a missed kick.

Thomas Morstead has one of the best jobs in the NFL. Averaging just over two punts per game, fewest in the league. Because he doesn’t punt that much he has to make the most of them. He does, averaging the third most net yards per punt, 43.3. He only has nine punts inside the 20 with thee touchbacks but that is to be expected when he doesn’t get any opportunities.

The Saints almost never make a mistake when they’re on the field on fourth down. The best way for the Bucs to win is either score early and often like week one, or control the clock, like the Cowboys, did last week. Look for a high scoring game on Sunday.

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