By Max Luckan
Having now lost three of their last four games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have entered into another slump. This one won’t be as bad as the one at the beginning of the season when the team started with an 0-8 record, however, the clock continues to tick on the futures of head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik.
There have been no recent indications regarding the current status of Schiano or Dominik, but there is sort of a collective assumption that if the Bucs finish the season with a three-game losing streak, both would likely be fired. However, there have been no concrete indications out of One Buc Place lately, so it is hard to see exactly what’s going on.
If the Bucs have any heart left in them after the horrendous beating they took this season, they’ll prove it by confronting the Saints and making them work for the last game of the season.
Saints Season Record
The New Orleans Saints currently have some problems of their own. The team is on a two-game losing streak, having lost back-to-back games to the St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers.
Last week’s loss to the Panthers dropped the Saints record to 10-5 on the season and pushed them out of first place in the NFC South. Still, they are on their way to a playoff berth, but also need a win against the Bucs to finish the season on a good note. Their most impressive win probably came in Week 14 when they beat the Panthers 31-13, just one week after being demolished by the Seattle Seahawks.
Saints on Offense
Drew Brees is the undoubted leader of this offense, and the entire offense goes as Brees goes. That’s how it’s been for many years in New Orleans.
The Saints average 303.2 passing yards per game, which is second in the NFL, so that shows that they are clearly a pass-first offense. On the contrary, New Orleans is ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing, averaging just 91.7 rushing yards per game. On this side of the ball, New Orleans has a seemingly unlimited supply of weapons, led by tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Marques Colston.
Saints on Defense
Defense was definitely not a strong point for the Saints last season. That’s why the team brought in Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator and the results have been largely positive.
In fact, the defense is ranked fourth in the NFL, allowing just 306.7 yards per game. That is pretty impressive considering the fact that the Saints have suffered many injuries on the defensive side of the ball this season. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been injured basically the entire season, and safety Roman Harper has also been banged up.
However, they have gotten great production out of defensive end Cameron Jordan and linebacker Junior Galette this season, as both players have exceeded expectations.
Saints Players to Watch
Cameron Jordan (DE): Jordan has 12.5 sacks this season and is by far the team’s best player on defense. Donald Penn will have his hands full.
Jimmy Graham (TE): This should be obvious, but Graham has 15 touchdowns this season. The Bucs have to try to slow him down.
Drew Brees (QB): Brees is the team’s most valuable player in this pass-heavy offense. But if the Bucs can force turnovers, they can rattle him.
These two teams are obviously division rivals and the first game this season was very close, with the Saints barely winning it. The Bucs are 18-25 all-time against the Saints, but divisional matchups are always a toss-up.
For more Bucs news and updates, visit Bucs Central.
Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.