The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the New Orleans Saints in an NFC South matchup in Week 2. New Orleans was victorious in Week 1 against another NFC South opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, while the Buccaneers failed to best the New York Jets and are searching for their first win.
Last season, the Saints took it to the Buccaneers big time. They won on the road, 35-28 in Week 7, when Drew Brees passed for 377 yards. When the Saints got their turn at hosting in Week 15, they absolutely thrashed the Bucs, winning 41-0.
Let's take a look at both teams below:
Meet the Buccaneers
The Buccaneers had a win over the Jets in sight before collapsing on the final drive. Geno Smith, New York's rookie quarterback, managed to lead the Jets into field goal range, and Nick Folk connected on a 48-yard field goal with two seconds left on the clock, giving the Jets an 18-17 victory.
Josh Freeman had a so-so day for the Bucs. He completed 15 of 31 passes for 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Doug Martin rushed the ball 24 times for just 65 yards, a per-carry average of 2.7 yards. The Bucs' defense held Smith in check for most of the game, and there just wasn't enough there to pick up a win.
The Buccaneers would be in a bad place if they lost this one, mostly due to the fact that the Saints would have a 2-0 record and a lot of momentum.
Meet the Saints
The Saints fell to a 10-0 deficit in the first quarter against the Falcons, but quickly responded with three scores in the second quarter. Drew Brees had a very Drew Brees day, completing 26 of 35 passes for 357 yards and a pair of touchdowns with one interception. He didn't have much of a running game, but he also didn't need it.
New Orleans' defense stood up to Atlanta's offense very well, as they stopped Julio Jones from having a huge game, though Matt Ryan did manage a couple touchdown passes.
The Saints had a down year last season, leading some to think that Brees might be nearing the end of an extremely productive career. But if they go out and keep beating teams like the Falcons, they'll be just fine. Winning on the road against a division rival like the Bucs would be great as well.
Local Takes: Buccaneers
Sander Philipse of Bucs Nation notes that the defense and special teams were very good in the scope of Week 1 around the NFL, but the offense was not:
Interestingly, the Bucs' performance was outstanding if we ignore one facet of the game: the offense. On defense, the Bucs put up the fourth-best performance of the day. On special teams, they put up the best performance of the day. On offense, though, they put up the third-worst performance of the day. Only the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars were worse.
Local Takes: Saints
Over at Canal Street Chronicles, they take a look at an unsung hero, kicker Garrett Hartley:
Overshadowed by the debut of a revamped defense, and the return of Sean Payton to the sideline, seemed to be the reliable kicking of Garrett Hartley. Hartley was three of three on field goal attempts, contributing significantly to the Saints' six point winning margin.
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Cornerback depth is lacking, so he could RT @ed_559: you think kenny stills is going to do a lot of damage to the bucs this weekend?— Sander Philipse (@Bucs_Nation) September 11, 2013
Even if Vaccaro did tip the ball, it was negligible. Tony Gonzalez should have caught that pass.— Canal St. Chronicles (@SaintsCSC) September 11, 2013
Seven of eight experts from CBS Sports are picking the Saints to win this one. That includes people like Jason La Canfora and Will Brinson. The lone dissenter is Pete Prisco, who thinks the Buccaneers will take this one at home. Eleven of the 13 experts from ESPN are picking the Saints as well, with Chris Mortensen being the notable dissenter.
The Saints opened as 3-point favorites and can be had for as high as 3.5-point favorites on some books, according to OddsShark.