coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
On 09/09/2013 04:37 PM in NFL

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Preview and Pick

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Preview and Pick

The schedule in week two of the NFL features some great divisional matchups to include the NFC South throw down this weekend that centers on the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a miserable performance in week one, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already under the microscope and under some huge pressure to win this game in week two.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the road team as a favorite. The Saints were tabbed as (-3) point favorites but that number disappeared in a heartbeat. Now the latest line is (-3.5) at almost every top rated sportsbook. The Buccaneers lackluster effort in game one is the main reason that 95 percent of the betting public is one the Saints.

The Buccaneers need this win. In fact they are one of the few teams that is in a must win situation in week two. The Buccaneers were expected to go into the game against the New York Jets and escape with a win and instead they lost on a last second gaffe.
The focus will be on the last minute foolish penalty that put the Jets in field goal range, but the Buccaneers had 13 penalties and another lack luster effort from an offense that is loaded with weapons. They will need to put points up on the board against the high flying Saints which means that it is time for Josh Freeman to stand up and play quarterback.

The Saints welcomed Sean Payton back to the sidelines and the result was a very important win against their rival. Now they have to keep that momentum as they head to the road against the desperate Buccaneers.

The sports betting trends for this game may surprise you. The total has gone under in 4 of New Orleans's last 5 games when playing on the road against Tampa Bay which could be an indication that the Bucs defense does well against Brees. However Tampa Bay is 2-4 straight up in its last 6 games when playing New Orleans and 1-5-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 7 games. New Orleans is 3-6 straight up in its last 9 games on the road which is a good indication that this could be a very close game.
The Saints and the Buccaneers always play a good game, but this one is more important for the Buccaneers.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
09/10/2013 04:47 PM

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are unapologetic for playing what they describe as good, tough, physical football. They just want to get better at it.

Three members of the team's defense were penalized for hard hits during an 18-17 season-opening loss to the New York Jets, and coach Greg Schiano reiterated Monday that although he wants players to comply with NFL rules he also doesn't want to do anything to discourage them from being aggressive.

The last of the personal fouls, assessed to linebacker Lavonte David for shoving Jets quarterback Geno Smith as the rookie scampered out of bounds after a 10-yard scramble, set up New York's winning field goal. Schiano insisted, though, that undisciplined play did not cost Tampa Bay the game. "We've got to play on the edge. That's the way we play," Schiano said a day after the Bucs were flagged a total of 13 times for 102 yards, including major penalties on safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron for big hits.

"We've got to be smart about it. The strike zone is decreasing in the National Football League, and we've got to make sure we stay within the rules," Schiano added. "It doesn't mean you can't be as physical, but we have to try to be better that way."

The Bucs set the tone for a long day on their first offensive series, which ended with delay of game penalties on consecutive plays, followed by a sack, a flag for a false start and a penalty for an illegal formation that the Jets declined.

Part of the problem was a malfunctioning headset in quarterback Josh Freeman's helmet, but the sequence also was a continuation of sloppy play — particularly on offense — from the preseason. "There was a communicator issue. But you know what, that needs to be overcome. We have mechanisms in place for that, which we didn't employ efficiently," Schiano said. "Delay of games, false starts are inexcusable. The physical penalties, those you better be careful. ... Some are very obvious, and you say that's going to be a penalty 10 out of 10 times. Others you look at and you say: 'I'm not so sure.' But it doesn't matter," Schiano added. "I tell our team and tell our coaches, and I tell myself, if the flag is thrown, it's a penalty. It doesn't matter what we think."

David said Sunday that he thought Smith was still inbounds when he hit the New York quarterback at the Bucs 45. The penalty moved the ball to the 30, when Nick Folk kicked a 48-yard field goal on the next play.

Teammates didn't fault the second-year linebacker, who had eight tackles, a sack and an interception. "You can't play cautious," cornerback Leonard Johnson said.

"That's just players playing hard," defensive end Da'Quan Bowers said of the penalties on David, Goldson and Barron. "It's a split-second between hitting somebody in the head and in the chest."

Several players approached David with words of encouragement in the locker room following the game. Schiano also spoke to the disappointed linebacker. "The guy's a great player and a great teammate, and he cares. He feels like he made a mistake that cost the game," the coach said. "As I told him, it's one play. We had plenty of opportunities to win that game. Am I pleased with the play? Is he pleased with the play? No. But he's one of our finest players. I fully expect Lavonte to rebound. That's the fighter he is. He'll be fine."

Besides cutting down on penalties, the Bucs also need to find a way to get a sputtering offense on track if they want to avoid falling into a deeper holes.

Tampa Bay hosts New Orleans next Sunday and visits New England the following week.

Despite having a rookie in his first pro start at quarterback, the Jets outgained the Bucs 304 yards to 250. Defensively, New York shut down the run, limiting Doug Martin to 65 yards rushing on 24 carries.

Schiano expects other teams to try to do the same. "That's going to be the formula to stop our offense. It's not a mystery. We have to throw and catch. We missed open guys and then we dropped some passes," the coach said. "We have to protect better. We had three sacks, we also were hurried. If people are going to do that, you have to be able to throw the ball effectively."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
09/11/2013 04:13 PM

The New Orleans Saints' defense continues to take big hits.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that starting nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley is expected to be out several weeks, according to a source. The injury knocked him out of the team's Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The injury is not season-ending, but it sounds like the Saints will be without yet another starter for a while. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma is on the injured reserve-designated to return list, which allows the team to bring him back later in the season. Linebacker Victor Butler is on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and is unlikely to play this season after tearing his ACL in the offseason. Defensive linemen Kenyon Coleman and linebacker Will Smith are both out for the season.

New Orleans' defense was historically bad in 2012, and it didn't look great on paper heading into this season. That paper has already been shredded, especially in the front seven. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has his hands full.

Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers marks a great opportunity for Josh Freeman and the sloppy Buccaneers' offense to turn things around.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
09/12/2013 02:34 PM

Has any one unit ever undergone such a remarkable transformation in one offseason as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary? Has any unit ever needed one more? The Buccaneers' pass defense actually allowed more yards than the New Orleans Saints' pass defense in 2012 (they ranked 32nd and 31st, respectively). So the Bucs went to extreme measures this offseason to fix their biggest weakness.

They signed the best safety available in free agency, former San Francisco 49er Dashon Goldson, to a five-year, $41.25 million deal. Then they made an even bigger splash, trading a first-round draft pick to the New York Jets for superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis. Tampa also used its second-round draft pick on cornerback Johnthan Banks after using a first-round pick last year on rising star safety Mark Barron.

"They got a little bit of a facelift there," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees - who will offer the Bucs' new secondary their first real test on Sunday when the high-powered Saints offense visits Raymond James Stadium.

The "face" of that facelift is Revis, who had earned a reputation as one of the top five or 10 impact players in the NFL before a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee sidelined him last September.

Revis is still working his way back into form after sitting out the Bucs' preseason games. But by all accounts, he held up well last week in Tampa Bay's 18-17 loss to the New York Jets, with two early pass break-ups before the Jets stopped throwing his way much later in the game.

The Saints won't be afraid to test Revis - because Brees and coach Sean Payton aren't afraid to test anybody. "No. You know Sean Payton. You think he's gonna say that?" Saints receiver Lance Moore said of other coordinators who often decide to ignore Revis' side of the field.

But Brees admitted that there is a bit of a "Revis rule," in that the Saints will at least proceed with caution against him. "I would say there are times where maybe there's a certain corner and you just know that he defends this certain route or concept or play very well. And so all things equal, lets go away from him," Brees said. "And so you definitely say there's a Revis rule as it pertains to some of those things. You just want to avoid giving him those opportunities as much as you can.

"But then again, listen, we're gonna execute our offense. And there's going to be times where we're going to his side or going against him. But we're not gonna be careless about it, we'll be smart about it."

Brees has faced Revis only once while they've emerged as two of the league's biggest superstars - not counting their annual Pro Bowl meetings, that is. They played in 2009 when the Saints beat the Jets 24-10 in the Superdome. Revis had two pass break-ups but no interceptions.

However, the Saints have obviously developed great respect for Revis from afar. "As good as the media talks about him, he's that good and then some," Moore said of the 5-foot-11, 198-pound Revis, who has 19 career interceptions and a mythical island named after him. "He's a guy that is so talented, but he's smart at the same time. It's different from a guy that has all the talent in the world but doesn't really care to study film or understand the intricacies of the game. Revis is all over the place. He's mentally sharp. He's physically talented and definitely knows how to make those plays.

"He's not the biggest corner we play. He's not the fastest corner we play. But like I said, just the mental aspect that he brings, his film study and route recognition and all those things allow him to kind of get the edge on most corners. And his play shows it every week."

Meanwhile, Goldson is no slouch - though it's hard to tell since Revis gets all the attention.

The 6-2, 200-pounder earned two straight trips to the Pro Bowl over the past two years after emerging as an enforcer on the back end of the 49ers' star-studded defense.

Saints' Sean Payton on revamped Tampa Bay secondary after they added star defensive backs Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson. "He has good instincts. He's a real good tackler. He has range to cover on the back end," Payton said of Goldson, who has 14 interceptions over his past four seasons as a full-time starter. "He does a lot of things well."

Moore said Goldson is a special player - and a feisty one, as he demonstrated by dinging two Jets players last week, once drawing a penalty for his hit. "He's a guy, it's funny, you watch him on film, they'll be playing Cover 2 and he'll be one of the deep safeties and he's making tackles on run plays at the line of scrimmage. That's not something you see all the time," Moore said. "He's extremely physical. He's a taller guy, kind of thin. But he will come up and hit you. And he's had a couple penalties so I'm sure he's gonna be kind of angry about that."

So the Saints know what caliber of players they'll be facing. But they won't know exactly to expect from the unit as a whole.

The Buccaneers secondary used to be ripe for the picking (like when Brees threw for a total of 684 yards and eight touchdowns against them in two victories last year). Now it might even be one of Tampa's greatest strengths.

"I think there is a little bit of a chemistry brewing back there," Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said, running through the roster of new veterans and developing talent. But, Schiano added, "This will be the ultimate challenge."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
09/13/2013 05:15 PM

In the evaluation of a quarterback, one must first weigh his impact upon the game. After that, you contemplate the statistics. Then you consider the nuances.

After that, you come to this conclusion: Drew Brees, technically, is a bit better than Geno Smith. Uh-oh.

Let's see: Entering Thursday, Brees had played in 170 more games than Smith, and he had thrown for 325 more touchdowns, and he had passed for 46,020 more yards, a great many of them against the Bucs. Using the nifty Geno-to-Drew calculator, Smith's 256 yards last week would have translated to, oh, about 415 by Brees.

Just asking: But do you still feel good about the Bucs defense?

I know, I know. Last week, the defense had enough moments to make you think. Opposing wide receivers weren't running relay races to the end zone the way they were last year. The opposing quarterback didn't have enough time to plan a vacation. This time, the Bucs actually had a bit of scrap, which, frankly, made them look a lot better than they actually were. Playing against a rookie quarterback will do that for a defense.

Still, they gave up 22 first downs. Still, Smith went 8-of-12 in the fourth quarter. Still, the Jets went 50 yards in the last 34 seconds to win.

The thing is the Bucs defense gets somewhat of a pass simply because it looked so much less befuddled than the offense. (Who doesn't?) Greg Schiano had a bad weekend, and there are so many things stuffed into Josh Freeman's helmet these days, it's a wonder he can communicate at all.

Along the way, however, the defense had some spotty play, too. For instance, it allowed Smith a rating of 80.6. For instance, it gave up five passes of more than 20 yards and another five of 13 or more. For instance, it seemed to think tight end Kellen Winslow is still on its team.

"Do I think we played well enough?" Schiano said. "No, I think we have so much better to play. But we definitely improved. Certainly, a test is coming that is one of the top-three tests in the league. We will see quickly how much better we have become."

A lot of how you judge the Bucs defense from Sunday depends on how you judge Smith. If you think he is going to be a rookie star, a Russell Wilson or a Robert Griffin III, then the Bucs played okay. Except for Smith's scrambles, the Jets only ran for 43 yards, and the Bucs had five sacks. Cornerback Darrelle Revis spent most of the afternoon guarding decoys.

But if you remember that these were the first snaps ever taken by Smith, then you probably expected a little more from the Bucs, especially in the final quarter. That is where the very good defenses turn off the light. This one didn't. It made repeated penalties. It allowed too many third downs.

Time was a rookie quarterback was an in-between meals snack for the Bucs. They would hit him and harass him and get after him so hard that the quarterback seemed to forget what sport he was playing.

Were the Bucs good enough? No, they weren't. "In hindsight, after watching the film, we didn't feel that way," said defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. "There were two areas where we thought we could be distinctly better. One was third down. Not that they killed us, but in our weekly measurements, we didn't reach our goal. We wouldn't view anybody being good enough on third down. Then tied in with that was quarterback efficiency. Not that it was off the scale for them, but we thought we could have done a lot better and put ourselves in position to secure the win there at the end."

What more can the Bucs do? They can defend the deep middle. They can contain a running quarterback. They can shut down the penalties, which gave the Jets five first downs. And they can get a sack or two from their defensive line, which only had one of the five Bucs sacks.

"If you look at the plays we did get the sacks on, I thought we were creating pressure with our down guys," Sheridan said. "They may have been chewing up the protection and allowing some second-level guys to come clean. Maybe our numbers didn't show it, but I thought we had a very aggressive up-the-field push in the pocket."

Is there hope? Yeah, there is. Revis erases much of the field for an opponent. That helps. Penalties aside, linebacker Lavonte David is excellent. And Sheridan raved about defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on Thursday.

"He's definitely someone who has to be game-planned against," Sheridan said, "because he can be unstoppable. He's definitely a nightmare for opposing teams. You better figure out how you're going to try to block him in pass protection and how you're going to take care of him in the run game as well. Gerald is a potentially dominant player week-in and week-out."

In other words, there is better personnel on defense than a year ago. But the Bucs need to raise their standards. If this team is going to win, after all, it won't be because of the offense. The Bucs need to control third downs. They need to stop the big plays.

No rush, guys. Any time between now and Sunday will do.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
09/13/2013 05:15 PM

In the evaluation of a quarterback, one must first weigh his impact upon the game. After that, you contemplate the statistics. Then you consider the nuances.

After that, you come to this conclusion: Drew Brees, technically, is a bit better than Geno Smith. Uh-oh.

Let's see: Entering Thursday, Brees had played in 170 more games than Smith, and he had thrown for 325 more touchdowns, and he had passed for 46,020 more yards, a great many of them against the Bucs. Using the nifty Geno-to-Drew calculator, Smith's 256 yards last week would have translated to, oh, about 415 by Brees.

Just asking: But do you still feel good about the Bucs defense?

I know, I know. Last week, the defense had enough moments to make you think. Opposing wide receivers weren't running relay races to the end zone the way they were last year. The opposing quarterback didn't have enough time to plan a vacation. This time, the Bucs actually had a bit of scrap, which, frankly, made them look a lot better than they actually were. Playing against a rookie quarterback will do that for a defense.

Still, they gave up 22 first downs. Still, Smith went 8-of-12 in the fourth quarter. Still, the Jets went 50 yards in the last 34 seconds to win.

The thing is the Bucs defense gets somewhat of a pass simply because it looked so much less befuddled than the offense. (Who doesn't?) Greg Schiano had a bad weekend, and there are so many things stuffed into Josh Freeman's helmet these days, it's a wonder he can communicate at all.

Along the way, however, the defense had some spotty play, too. For instance, it allowed Smith a rating of 80.6. For instance, it gave up five passes of more than 20 yards and another five of 13 or more. For instance, it seemed to think tight end Kellen Winslow is still on its team.

"Do I think we played well enough?" Schiano said. "No, I think we have so much better to play. But we definitely improved. Certainly, a test is coming that is one of the top-three tests in the league. We will see quickly how much better we have become."

A lot of how you judge the Bucs defense from Sunday depends on how you judge Smith. If you think he is going to be a rookie star, a Russell Wilson or a Robert Griffin III, then the Bucs played okay. Except for Smith's scrambles, the Jets only ran for 43 yards, and the Bucs had five sacks. Cornerback Darrelle Revis spent most of the afternoon guarding decoys.

But if you remember that these were the first snaps ever taken by Smith, then you probably expected a little more from the Bucs, especially in the final quarter. That is where the very good defenses turn off the light. This one didn't. It made repeated penalties. It allowed too many third downs.

Time was a rookie quarterback was an in-between meals snack for the Bucs. They would hit him and harass him and get after him so hard that the quarterback seemed to forget what sport he was playing.

Were the Bucs good enough? No, they weren't. "In hindsight, after watching the film, we didn't feel that way," said defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. "There were two areas where we thought we could be distinctly better. One was third down. Not that they killed us, but in our weekly measurements, we didn't reach our goal. We wouldn't view anybody being good enough on third down. Then tied in with that was quarterback efficiency. Not that it was off the scale for them, but we thought we could have done a lot better and put ourselves in position to secure the win there at the end."

What more can the Bucs do? They can defend the deep middle. They can contain a running quarterback. They can shut down the penalties, which gave the Jets five first downs. And they can get a sack or two from their defensive line, which only had one of the five Bucs sacks.

"If you look at the plays we did get the sacks on, I thought we were creating pressure with our down guys," Sheridan said. "They may have been chewing up the protection and allowing some second-level guys to come clean. Maybe our numbers didn't show it, but I thought we had a very aggressive up-the-field push in the pocket."

Is there hope? Yeah, there is. Revis erases much of the field for an opponent. That helps. Penalties aside, linebacker Lavonte David is excellent. And Sheridan raved about defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on Thursday.

"He's definitely someone who has to be game-planned against," Sheridan said, "because he can be unstoppable. He's definitely a nightmare for opposing teams. You better figure out how you're going to try to block him in pass protection and how you're going to take care of him in the run game as well. Gerald is a potentially dominant player week-in and week-out."

In other words, there is better personnel on defense than a year ago. But the Bucs need to raise their standards. If this team is going to win, after all, it won't be because of the offense. The Bucs need to control third downs. They need to stop the big plays.

No rush, guys. Any time between now and Sunday will do.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
09/15/2013 08:53 AM

PICK

Saints are a different team on the road and the Bucs need a win so they can take the Pressure off Josh Freeman. The Saints keep this close, but are giving too many points. I will take the home divisional dog.

Bucs +3.5

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1