BUCS : GOAL LINE STAND : NEW ORLEANS
By Leo Haggerty

Tampa Bay hosts National Football Conference South division-leading New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium.  Kick off in Tampa is scheduled for 1 PM weather permitting.

What do the Bucs need to do to sweep the two games this year against the Saints?  Below are my four areas of focus that the Pewter Pirates need to successfully accomplish to achieve a victory and stay in the playoff conversation.  

1ST DOWN

BE THE RABBIT

The Bucs have to get the lead early.  I can’t make it any simpler than that.

Tampa Bay cannot get behind by double-digits or that will be all she wrote.  New Orleans will run-away-and-hide if you give them the opportunity.

The Saints offense, as we have seen on more than one occasion this year, have put some big numbers up on their side of the scoreboard.  Plus, New Orleans will be in ill humor coming off a loss in a game they believe they should have won.

By being in the lead, or being within a score a worst, the Tampa Bay offense can stay two-dimensional.  The Bucs can now eat some clock by running the football.  That keeps Brees & Company on the sideline and that’s always a good thing.

Stay close, or be in the lead, and the Bucs have a good shot a winning.  Get behind big and the Saints defense will coming marching in and it won’t be a pretty picture for Tampa Bay fans. 

2ND DOWN

MAKE #9 UNCOMFORTABLE

Let’s be totally honest here.  There’s not a better front-runner in the NFC South under center than Drew Brees.  In fact, he’s definitely in the conversation as to what QB is at the top of that list in the entire NFL.

So how did Dallas beat the guys from the Big Easy last week?  It’s simple.  The Cowboys beat up the Black and Gold receivers at the line of scrimmage.  That threw the timing off on pass plays and forced #9 to hold the pigskin longer than he wanted.

As I have pontificated for years, if Brees, or any NFL quarterback, can throw it where he wants to and when he wants to you’re going to get beat.  That’s just a fact.

The Buccaneers need to get the Saints QB off his spot. If they don’t, it’ll be a long afternoon for the Pewter Pirates.

3RD DOWN

TAKE THE POINTS

HC Dirk Koetter doesn’t need to be the riverboat gambler this week.  When points are there, take them.

What does that mean?  Let me give you an example.  If it’s fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, kick the field goal.  

One thing about the Saints is that you will get more possessions than normal because they are truly a throw-first offense.  The clock will stop more often.  That’s why the Buccaneers need to take the points as they come and not force the issue.

To use an old saying totally out of context, three in the hand is better than 7 left on the field when it comes to points.  Don’t panic and try to be a hero especially early in the game where the tone is set.  

4TH DOWN

DEAL WITH ADVERSITY

We all know that there are some bad things that will happen to the Bucs.  A bad call, an injury, a bad bounce or a turnover will most like occur.  Hey, it’s football, right?

Tampa Bay needs to fight through the negative energy and get the positive vibes back as quickly as possible especially if it’s early in the contest.  If you dwell on the bad stuff, it will eat at you until you trump that misfortune with a worse one.

OK, time for my pick.  Unlike popular opinion, I like the Bucs.  Tampa Bay is home and the Saints are playing out of the dome.  Not only are the Buccaneers the opponent but New Orleans has to fight Mother Nature as well.

Finally, I like what I see with the Bucs D-Line.  They’re getting healthy and starting to put four-man pressure on the QB.  That’s imperative if you want to beat #9 and the Saints.

TB, 31-27, with a great performance by Winston and a late stop by the Bucs defense.