Game on…with Rob Kriete! – JANUARY 14

I have always been told that “practice makes perfect.” While practicing a lot of sports and skills over my lifetime, I have never attained perfection. Perhaps the expression should be “practice makes noticeable improvement?” It doesn’t have that alliteration or fortune-cookie feel, but it is, at least, closer to the truth.

Tom Brady

When NFC South divisional rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints, square off in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs this weekend, it will come with both teams having a lot of “practice” against the other. It will be the third meeting between the two this season, with the Saints winning the first two contests. These two teams know each other well and match up well, with Tampa Bay having an edge with their offensive “fantasy” team and New Orleans with a stout defense.

Buccaneers-Coach Bruce Arians

Like most football games, the battle will be waged at the line of scrimmage. Buccaneers’ first-year offensive tackle, Tristan Wirfs, has done an incredible job by allowing only one sack all season while Donovan Smith protected Tom Brady very well in their matchup against Washington. These two will need to be at the top of their respective games as they need to give their Hall-of-Fame bound quarterback time the throw.

Drew Brees, the other Hall-of-Fame bound over-40 quarterback, finally got all of his offensive weapons back last week against Chicago. The Saints offense failed to put away the Bears, even struggling at times, but their stingy defense only allowed a meaningless touchdown at the end of the game.

Tampa Bay has produced a franchise-record 289.1 passing yards per game to help them score 30.8 points per contest. Though a team known more for their offense, New Orleans has only allowed 337 points all season, just behind Washington. Defensive-end Trey Hendrickson and his 13.5 sacks lead this defense and returns from injury this week.

Despite having two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in this legendary matchup, look for both to establish the running game early. Both teams are good at stopping the running of the ball, however. Tom Brady is hoping that the “practice” he has had in two losses to Drew Brees and the Saints will pay off with a better result. At the same time, the Saints feel confident that their games against the Bucs have created a blueprint to victory.

I know that all the practice in the world would not make me as good as either of these two prolific passers! Look for another great game as Tom Brady and Drew Brees try to add to their legendary resumes.

I cannot wait until the Bucs and Saints get their Game On…yet again!

As always, thanks to the Bucs photo staff for providing some of the picture for this article during the pandemic.

Be safe, everyone.