The New Orleans Saints impressed last week with their win over the Atlanta Falcons last week. They continue their regular season with a trip to Raymond James Stadium to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in what will prove to be a pivotal game early in the season. The Buccaneers, a team the Saints beat twice last season, will be a tough challenge for the Saints.
The Saints lead the NFC South, albeit early in the season, and a win against the Buccaneers would be a great way to start the first two weeks of the season. Besides being 2-0, the Saints would have a good division lead that is bolstered by two division wins. However, a win against the Bucs will not come easy, as they present many a challenge to the Saints offense and defense alike.
The Buccaneers made headlines this offseason with signing of Dashon Goldson, the acquisition of Darrelle Revis, and the drafting of Jonathan Banks. Those three will join last year’s first round pick Mark Barron to form a revamped secondary that will look to improve on what was a horrid pass defense last season. However, despite their passing struggles, the Buccaneer rush defense was one of the best in league with one of the more up and coming front sevens in the league. The Saints offense will be looking for a bounce back game after what was, by the Saints standards, a lackluster performance last week.
The defense had a very good start to their season with a strong performance against the high powered Falcons, but they have another test against the Buccaneers. The Saints suffered another injury to their defense with reports saying that Brodrick Bunkley is expected to miss several weeks with a calf injury. This will thrust rookie John Jenkins into a larger role this week at nose tackle. This is bad news especially with Davin Joseph and former Saints Carl Nicks, one of the best guard tandems in the league, holding down the middle of that offensive line. Nonetheless, the Saints will have to do their best containing Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson. Doug Martin wasn’t great against the Saints last season, but he has the ability to go off for 100 yards any game. Jackson, on the other hand, was able to rack up 297 yards in two games against the Saints last season.
The Saints will be looking to get the offense back on track and build on the progress the defense showed in Week 1. The Saints have to be careful not fall into a trap as they ride the emotional high of Sean Payton’s return and their Week 1 win.