New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14
When: Noon, Sunday
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Radio: WWL-AM, 870; WWL-FM, 105.3 in New Orleans; KMDL-FM, 97.3 in Lafayette; WDGL-FM, 98.1 in Baton Rouge; en español: WGSO-AM, 990; WVDU-FM, 97.9
Records: Saints 10-2; Buccaneers 5-7
Coaches: Saints, Sean Payton (115-73), 12th season; Buccaneers, Dirk Koetter (19-25), 3rd season
Offense: The Bucs’ offense looks a little different than it did in the season opener in the Dome when it put up 48 points in a victory against the Saints. The biggest difference is at quarterback. Jameis Winston, serving a suspension at the beginning of the season, has regained his starting spot from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, you may remember, torched the Saints for 417 yards and 4 TDs in that first game. Winston is finding his groove and hasn’t thrown an interception or fumbled in the past two weeks, both wins. He’s completed 157 of 232 passes for 1,941 yards and his 67.7 completion percentage is the best of his career. … The Bucs have the league’s top offense in yards per game (442.7) and the top passing offense (344.5 yards per game)… Mike Evans, who has a team-best 1,121 yards this season, caught seven passes for 147 yards in Week 1. DeSean Jackson, who had 146 receiving yards in the opener, missed Sunday’s game against the Panthers with a thunb injury and could be out again. Chris Godwin, Jackson’s replacement, picked up the slack with five catches for 101 yards Sunday. Godwin has 676 yards receiving this season. But the Bucs have had their issues in the passing game too. Their 23 interceptions are the most in the league. (Winston has thrown 11 picks to go with his 12 TD passes). … The Bucs’ ground attack isn’t quite as potent and will face a Saints’ defense that is tops in the league against the run, yielding just 75.4 yards per game. The Bucs average 98.2 yards per game, 26th in the league. Peyton Barber (635 yards this season) is the leading rusher. … The offensive line has allowed 32 sacks this season (18th in the NFL) and the Bucs’ QB has been hit 83 times (fifth most in the league).
Defense: The offense isn’t the only thing that looks different. The defense has also gotten a makeover since the opener. Mike Scott was fired as defensive coordinator in October and replaced by Mark Duffner and the unit has improved, especially when it comes to forcing turnovers. The Bucs had just one interception in the first 10 weeks of the season. They have six interceptions in the past two games, including four in Sunday’s victory over Carolina. Safety Andrew Adams, who wasn’t on the Bucs’ roster in Week 1, had three of the Bucs’ four interceptions vs. the Panthers on Sunday. Despite the resurgence of the defense, the unit still is allowing 395.4 yards per game the sixth worst in the league. Drew Brees threw a season-high 439 yards and 4 TDs in the first game against the Bucs. … The Bucs are allowing 29.6 points every game, which is third worst in the league. … The secondary has been depleted by injuries all season and took a few more hits on Sunday when safeties Justin Evans (toe) and Isaiah Johnson (concussion) left the game. Their status for Sunday will be something to keep an eye on. Former Saints CB De’Vante Harris had three pass breakups Sunday… The Bucs had 4 sacks Sunday to push their season total to 33. They are led up front by Jason Pierre-Paul (11.5 sacks), Gerald McCoy (6 sacks) and Vinny Curry. LB Lavonte David returned after missing two weeks with a knee injury and had 12 tackles and a sack on Sunday. His 66 tackles lead the team.
Special teams: Yeah, special teams has improved to. Chandler Catanzaro, who missed a field goal in the season opener, has been replaced by Cairo Santos. Santos, who has played three games with the Bucs, has made all three of his field goals and is perfect on PATs. His three field goals have been pretty easy though, with the longest being just a 41 yarder. … Punter Bryan Anger is averaging a middle of the pack 44.6 yards per punt (18th in the league). He pinned Carolina inside the 20-yard line twice on Sunday. … The Bucs’ 16.9 yards per kickoff return is last in the league, while the 6 yards per return on punts is 25th.
Follow Rod Walker on Twitter @rwalkeradvocate
Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.