FNIA NO at TB Preview: The Saints and Bucs have been splitting the season series each year since 2008.
Oct 20, 2012, 7:00 PM EDT
SAINTS (1-4) AT BUCCANEERS (2-3)
By Football Night in America’s Eliott Kalb
• The Saints got their first win in Week 5 (vs. San Diego), allowing a season-low 24 points
and recording five sacks, their most since Week 2 of 2011. They were idle last week.
• The Bucs blew out the Chiefs last week, 38-10. In their previous two games (losses to
Washington and Dallas) they scored a combined 32 points.
• The Saints and Bucs have been splitting the season series each year since 2008. Each
club held serve at home in 2011.
• Despite already having their bye week, the Saints have allowed the seventh-most points
in the league. They could get a boost this week, as Jonathan Vilma (knee) was on
the practice field for the first time all season. Vilma is allowed to play because he’s
appealing his season-long suspension in connection with the Saints’ bounty scandal.
• The team has three weeks to activate Vilma from the PUP list. He underwent three
procedures on his left knee in a span of eight months, beginning in November and
stretching into July, including a relatively obscure, non-intrusive, blood-spinning
procedure that Vilma traveled to Germany to have done.
• While Vilma has been attending meetings, coach Aaron Kromer said the team could
decide to use Vilma in a smaller role until he has fully grasped defensive coordinator’s
Steve Spagnuolo’s system.
• Drew Brees has thrown for 300+ yards in four of his five games this season. This week,
he faces a Bucs pass defense that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for an
average of 312 yards per game.
• Brees should have Lance Moore (hamstring) back for the first time since Week 4. And
Jimmy Graham could be back after injuring his ankle vs. San Diego in Week 5.
• With Moore and Graham out, Marques Colston has excelled as the primary target,
catching 18 balls for 284 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games.
• With 6’1” CB Aqib Talib suspended for another three games (performance-enhancing
drugs), the Bucs will have no one over six feet tall to cover the 6’4” Colston.
• But the Saints have pretty much abandoned the running game. They’ve run the ball 96
times this season, the only team in the league that has yet to reach 100 carries. Pierre
Thomas and Mark Ingram both have exactly 37 rushes.
• The Saints have been just as bad defending the run. They’re allowing opponents to
average 173 yards per game on the ground, second-worst in the league.
• Former Saints offensive lineman Carl Nicks signed a five-year, $47M contract with the
Buccaneers in the offseason, and has impressed his new coaches in his first few games.
But his old coach Kromer—also the offensive line coach in New Orleans—was sad to
lose Nicks, whom he says “is a matchup win on almost everyone.”
• Nicks will line up often across from former teammate Sedrick Ellis. They were both part
of the Saints’ 2008 draft class, with Ellis going in the first round and Nicks in the fifth.
• Tampa Bay has had issues on third down (28.3% success rate, 30th in NFL), a problem
that Josh Freeman says is crucial to fix this week especially. “Another huge thing is
staying on the field, giving your defense a chance to rest and keeping No. 9 off the field,”
• Vincent Jackson has 166 yards and three touchdowns over his last two games.
• Bucs DE Da’Quan Bowers (Achilles) returned to practice this week for the first time.
The team has a 21-day window to activate him from the PUP list.
Sunday Night Football TwitterView all »
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- Peyton Manning: Charles Woodson would be a great addition
- ProFootballTalk: Who is the best free agent left on the market?
- Cushing supports new rule against low blocks from behind
- ProFootballTalk: Manning’s contract gives Broncos cap relief
- Rams sign tight end Zach Potter
- Arm surgery complete, next up for Gronkowski is evaluation of back
- Pats continue to tap into the Rutgers pipeline
- 2014 draft would start May 15
- Pro Bowl
- Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
- Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
- Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
- San Fransisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
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- Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
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- Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons
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- Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans
- San Diego Chargers as New Orleans Saints
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- Super Bowl