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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction


In Week 1, the Titans steam rolled the Buccaneers in their home stadium by starting a rookie quarterback. The fans in the Tampa Bay region undoubtedly had traumatic flashbacks to the era of the "Yuck-aneers" while enduring that beating. All that was missing were the hideous orange and red uniforms. How much lower can the Bucs sink?

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The Saints must have taken the NFL's promotion of Hispanic Heritage Month too seriously in the season opener. They decided to play fútbol at Arizona. Settling for four field goals doomed the Saints. Their defense is too young and lacking talent to be relied on to hold opponents under 20 points. Drew Brees and the offense must put the ball in the endzone more than once per game if the Saints have any realistic hope of winning.

The loser of this game does not need to push the panic button yet. However, placing a finger on that button would be understandable. The winner would claim the first intra-divisional win, an important step toward the NFC South title.

The Saints lead the overall series history against the Buccaneers, 29-17.  This total includes winning the last seven games between the clubs. In games played in New Orleans, the Saints hold a 16-10 advantage.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Saints -10

Three Things to Watch

1. Drew Brees versus Buccaneers' secondary

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Marcus Mariota, a quarterback making his first professional start, torched the Buccaneers defense for more than 200 yards, a completion percentage of 81.25 and four touchdowns. He would have racked up even more yards and scores had he not taken a seat on the bench in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

Against arguably the toughest set of defensive backs in the NFL, Brees threw for 355 yards. After viewing the game film of what the Titans did last Sunday, Drew Brees must feel like a hungry child about to be given free rein inside a candy store.

2. Jameis Winston versus Saints' front seven

The Titans sacked Winston four times and intercepted two of his passes, one of which they returned for a touchdown. No sane observer of Tennessee's defense would confuse the Titans defensive unit with the Steel Curtain or Chicago Bears' 46 defense.

The Saints gave up 427 yards from scrimmage last Sunday. That occurred against an experienced quarterback with a perennial Pro Bowler and two upcoming stars as receivers. Tampa Bay cannot match that level of talent.

3. No more Dome-field advantage?

The Saints have lost their last five home games during the regular season. Those represent the same number of losses in the Superdome as they endured during the four previous seasons with Sean Payton on the sidelines.

The Who Dat Nation inside the Superdome must generate thunderous noise on Sunday. They need to help rattle a rookie quarterback starting his first game on the road in the NFL. The Saints defense would greatly benefit from the Buccaneers being backed up due to some false starts, delays of game and other penalties.

Final Analysis

A game at home against the Buccaneers looks like the cure for what ails the Saints underachieving offense and overmatched defense. If the Titans can manage to score five offensive touchdowns against Tampa Bay's defense, the Saints offense should certainly be able surpass its single touchdown and total of 19 points scored in Arizona. The Saints will score early and often, adding to the Buccaneers' misery.

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Prediction: Saints 41, Buccaneers 17

— Written by John La Fleur, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network. A graduate of Michigan State and LSU, La Fleur also has been a Saints fan since he was old enough to understand football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.