Last Sunday, the New Orleans Saints failed to score a point in Santa Clara against the 49ers. For their next game, the Black and Gold will go to the opposite side of the country to face division leader Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Here are five things to look out for:
1) REDZONE EFFICIENCY:
New Orleans failed to reach the endzone or put up any points last week as they put the ball on the ground and turned it over on downs. This Tampa defense matches well with the Saints’ offense and has given them troubles the last few matches. Any time they find themselves in or near the red zone, they have to score something, especially early on because points will likely be hard to come by. During week two’s matchup, the Bucs didn’t score their first points until the 6:44 mark of the third quarter while the Saints didn’t score their first touchdown until there were three minutes left in the game.
2) PRESSURE ON TOM BRADY:
Brady’s kryptonite ever since he made it to Florida has been the defense for the Black and Gold. They seem to have figured him out every time they suit up against one another. Tampa has dealt with injuries on their offensive line all season while New Orleans has felt the injury bug and has plenty of players questionable for Monday night. Some notable defensive linemen on the injury report for the Saints are Payton Turner with an ankle injury, Kentavious Street, and Malcolm Roach, who both have an illness.
3) STOPPING THE RUN:
We could see the beginning of an established two-man backfield with Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White for Tampa. Fournette has been dealing with a hip pointer since their game versus the Seahawks in Germany. With him being out, White stepped up as a major contributor against the Browns last Sunday. Both could complement each other and allow the other to rest to keep the Saints’ defense off balance. New Orleans also has taken a step back this season in run defense as they’ve given up the eighth most in the league and allowed 11 rushing touchdowns.
4) LATTIMORE VS EVANS:
This has always been an intense individual matchup for these two. Last time, Mike Evans had a big 40-yard catch, yet it wasn’t with Marshon Lattimore covering him. The two would get ejected from the early season game in the third quarter which helped the Buccaneers start putting points on the board. This rivalry has leaned in favor of Lattimore with Evans getting an overall win against him here and there. We still await if the Saints cornerback will dress out on Monday as he’s been dealing with an abdomen injury since early October versus the Seahawks.
With this game likely going to be a battle for field position where the punters could may many appearances, an Andy Dalton interception or Tom Brady fumble could fuel an avalanche of points for either team. When Jameis Winston was the starter in week two of this season, after his first pick, Tampa scored their next 17 points to put the game out of reach. Another point of emphasis is to not get flagged too many times because drives on offense for the Saints come to a halt and possessions get extended for the opposing team, which leads to them being down every game.
Kick-off is scheduled for Monday, December 5th at 7:15 p.m.