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Tale of the tape

Tale Of The Tape: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At New Orleans Saints

(credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) (credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) (credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Bucs

New Orleans Saints

The Bucs have certainly become a more competitive team in the second half of the season than they were in the first half, but head coach Greg Schiano could still find himself in jeopardy at the end of this game. If he is going to hold on to his job, he can thank quarterback Mike Glennon, who has completed 60.0 percent of his passes and has a 17-8 TD-interception ratio since being named the starter. Quarterback The Saints had just about finished off the Carolina Panthers and clinched the NFC South, but they let Cam Newton escape on his final drive. As a result, the Saints must win this game to clinch their playoff spot. Drew Brees is not likely to let this opportunity slip away, particularly in a game played at the Superdome. Brees is completing 68.2 percent of his passes and has a 35-17 TD-interception ratio.
The Bucs have gotten a solid effort out of Bobby Rainey at the running back position after injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James. The key to the Bucs’ offense is Glennon’s ability to get the ball downfield to Vincent Jackson. Tight end Timothy Wright is a decent complementary receiver who can make plays on third downs. Offense The Saints are going to almost certainly address their woes in the running game in the offseason. Pierre Thomas has rushed for 529 yards and that’s simply not enough at this point in the year. Tight end Jimmy Graham is a difference maker who can dominate Tampa Bay’s secondary. Marques Colston is a veteran who should be at his best in this game.
The Bucs have played hard on the defensive side of the ball and rank 13th overall. However, they are likely to catch the New Orleans offense at the top of its game, and that appears to be a brutal assignment. Linebacker Lavonte David has to be at his best for the Bucs to have a chance. He leads the team with 137 tackles and he also has 6.0 sacks. DT Gerald McCoy leads the team with 9.0 sacks. Defense The Saints have been shockingly good this year on defense, compared to last year and preseason expectations. The Saints rank fourth in yards allowed, as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has infused a snarl to this group. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has a team-high 119 tackles, while unsung outside linebacker Junior Galette has a quick first step and 10.0 sacks.
The Bucs have done a decent job covering punts and kickoffs, but they have rarely gotten a boost from their own returners. Rian Lindell has had a decent year, making 22-of-28 FG attempts. Michael Koenen is averaging 44.0 yards per punt. Special Teams The Saints cut Garrett Hartley and brought in Shayne Graham to handle the placekicking duties the rest of the way. The Saints have been a bit disappointed with Darren Sproles because he has not given them any game-breaking returns. However, the coverage teams have been dependable.

The winner is

(credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints
4 out of 4

The Saints need this game to secure their playoff position. While they are disappointed with the loss in Carolina, they are far too seasoned to get careless here.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

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