It’s football time in Tampa Bay!
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host their division match against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and to much surprise, it’s not blacked out! That means at least a couple people want to see their Bucs play in person, and if you’re reading this I hope you have a chance to make it out as well.
Despite the attendance, there’s not much enthusiasm from social media in the Tampa fan base going into Sunday.
To start, the Bucs looked downright awful against the Jets. Josh Freeman did have a grip on the offense, the offensive line didn’t have a grip on anybody, and Lavonte David had too much of a grip on the opposing team’s quarterback. It does ease some of the pain that the Jets gave the Patriots all they could handle in New England last night, but that doesn’t make Tampa’s ugly loss any more of a win.
The Saints come marching into Raymond James fresh off a division win against the Atlanta Falcons. It was another day at the office for Drew Brees as he put up 350 yards through the air with two of his passes ending in touchdowns.
As the Bucs struggled in pass defense the over the last few years, so came their struggles against the pass-happy New Orleans Saints as well; their last match up ended 41-0 in favor of New Orleans. But it’s not the scheme that gives the Bucs trouble, it’s the matchups.
Saints TE Jimmy Graham is a nightmare for all teams, but if you’re starting him in fantasy, I can almost guarantee a TD from him this week — Graham recorded four catches, 45 yards and a TD last week. The Bucs do not have a serviceable receiving TE on the roster, and that will not only hurt them throughout the year, it will hurt them as they try to simulate players like Jimmy Graham during practice — spoiler alert: there is no simulation.
Graham isn’t the only problem; newcomer Kenny Stills and Saints vet Lance Moore consistently attack the teams from the slot. Jonathan Banks will most likely play in the nickel on Sunday, and his big, physical traits don’t match up well against the speedy and quick Stills and Moore.
Tampa’s strength is their run defense; they’ll have no trouble containing New Orleans’ rushing attack. I also believe Darrelle Revis shuts down Marques Colston fairly well. The key matchups will be Tamps’s rotating linebackers versus Jimmy Graham, and the Bucs’ nickel cornerbacks versus Moore and Stills.
On the offensive side of the ball, Tampa should — key word: SHOULD — be able to matchup againts New Orleans defensive with the talent they have on offense. I’m not worried about the “players only meeting” or the fact that Freeman missed the team photo. You know what takes away drama? Winning. The boys will go out and play the way they practiced, regardless of what you think may affect them off the field. Plus, Tampa might get Carl Nicks back, but stay tuned for that.
It will be a tough matchup to try and out-duel Drew Brees — as it always is — but if the Bucs let this one slide, they may be staring down Arizona with an 0-3 record the next time the run through the tunnels at Ray Jay.