Man ole man, don’t we have a feeling of emptiness down here in the Big Easy, or what? For the first time since December 2008 the Saints are out of the playoff hunt, and now it’s all about pride and playing the role of spoiler.
Let’s face it, neither one of these teams are destined to make the NFC playoffs, but with one more win than the Saints, Tampa is a little bit more alive right now than the Saints. Even though this game does not have big implications, the Bucs and Saints have put up some good battles as of late.
Tampa Bay won six of the last 11 games and they have won five of the last eight road contest in the series as well.
What they are saying:
Tampa Defensive Back Ronde Barber on his best memories in facing the Saints - “I’ve got some great memories against the Saints. Great memories against the Saints and one of your ex-quarterbacks (Aaron Brooks) who I played with at Virginia, he threw me three interceptions twice. Those are my best memories against the Saints. Over these past couple of years, especially since Drew (Brees) got there and Sean (Payton) turned that team around, it’s always been a rivalry type game in the sense that it seems like whoever gets one-another in that first game always ends up getting it back in the second one. I think this year is like no other, we’re hoping for that same result. They always present a challenge. They have so many weapons and so many formations and sets and everything else that you can do that you know coming in to this week that if you’re not on it, if you’re not putting that time in or even extra time in, then you’re putting yourself at a severe disadvantage. That’s what I get myself ready for every time we get ready to play these guys.”
Saints Coach Joe Vitt on the Saints trying to cut down on turning the ball over - “Yes, (we can) work on it every day. I take responsibility for this. We talk about it all the time (and) made the point to our football team this morning (that) Tampa Bay has had only five since we’ve last played them and we’ve had three times that amount. That’s been our Achilles heel right now. We did a good job today in practice with ball security. Drew (Brees) did a great job of putting the ball where it needed to be. Our backs and receivers had the ball high and tight. We’re going to continue to work on it. Right now it’s keeping us from winning football games and not allowing us to win. I made this comment earlier in the week (that) you have to keep from losing a football game before you ever win one. We’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot the last three weeks. That being said, pressing is not going to win. If you try to press you’re not going to win. Preparation will and preparation allows you to have confidence. Now you can play fast and confident in a game and let it go and let it flow.”
Tampa Bay Coach Greg Schiano on facing the Saints earlier this season = “Number one, the quarterback (Drew Brees) is a great player and he willed that game to happen the way that it did. That’s number one. Number two is defense. I thought (they) rose up against us and made plays in critical situations that afforded them the victory. We have our hands full. (On) special teams I think they have some dynamic players that we have to be aware of, some individual guys in the punt rush that we have to be aware of that can cause havoc if they choose to. Definitely with that going into the dome (Mercedes-Benz Superdome), we certainly have our hands full.”
Things to look for:
Who has fire left? Although New Orleans is done for the first time in four seasons, the coaches and players have been talking about being professional and playing hard to finish out the disappointing season strong. Now, with all of the other news that came out this week about the pay-for-performance program you have to wonder how much more this group can take.
Josh or Drew? Neither one of these players has been at their best the past few weeks, and their play has had a lot to do why each Tampa and New Orleans are in the back-end of the NFC. Whichever QB plays the best will more than likely lead his team to victory.
Teach me how to Dougie! With all the hype about Andrew, Robert and Russell, not many outside of the NFC South and the state of Florida know much about Tampa Running Back Doug Martin. Martin is having one of the best rookie seasons a RB could have and he will look to add to his already impressive 1,234 yard total. The Saints leading rusher is Pierre Thomas with 444 yards.
Don’t get kicked in the return! – Last week the Saints gave up 287 yards in kickoff returns, which broke all sorts of records. It’s going to be interesting to see how much work the Saints did this week to limit the Bucs kickoff returns.
One of the most disappointing seasons in Saints history is slowing coming to an end. With just three games left, the Saints can either play with pride and gain some steam going into the off-season, or they can wind up with a losing record.
Dating back to the first game of the season, the opposing team’s records made against the Black and Gold has been the story far too often. From RG3 to Jamaal Charles to David Wilson, the Saints have had a lifetime of records set on them this season, ironically after a season in which the Saints offense set plenty of historic records themselves.
Now, the Bucs, Cowboys, and Panthers are left…and if the Saints don’t play any better, they are more likely to be 5-11 instead of 8-8. My advice to you is with both teams in a slump, find another game to play instead of this one. Because I honestly don’t have a good feel on whether or not to lay the point or take them!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) @ New Orleans Saints (5-8)
Sunday December 16th 2012 Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Last week’s Results: Philadelphia beat Tampa 23-21 and New York Giants beat New Orleans 52-27
Series History: New Orleans leads the series 24-17