Welcome everyone to the latest game preview for the New Orleans Saints! This week, we break down the Saints regular season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Last Week: The Saints clinched a playoff berth last Sunday with a 23-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Buccaneers came up short after Cam Newton recovered his own fumble in the final minute to give the Panthers a 22-19 victory.
Last Meeting: The last time these two teams faced off, the Saints dominated the Bucs 30-10 and put Jameis Winston on the bench with an injury. With the win back on November 5th, the Saints have won three of the last five matchups.
Storylines to Watch:
Finding That Spark Again: One of the big issues for the Saints the last couple of weeks has been the inefficiency of the offense, especially on third down. Just look at what happened last week against the Falcons where they converted only three third downs in 13 attempts.
As long the defense can shut down the other team on third down, it’s not that big of an issue. However, the Saints can’t entirely rely on that in this must-win game on Sunday afternoon.
Dominant Front Seven: The front seven has improved by leaps and bounds over the course of the season and the performance last weekend against Atlanta was huge with five sacks on Matt Ryan. A similar performance on Sunday from Cam Jordan and crew would be a big step towards clinching the NFC South.
Achieving Goals: After the losses to Minnesota and New England, it seemed very unlikely that the Saints were going to get anywhere near the postseason. Fast forward to week 17, they’re actually playing in a meaningful game that has serious implications towards winning their division and seeding.
A win on Sunday clinches the NFC South championship outright for the first time since 2011 and everyone on the roster wants to achieve that goal. It will require a complete team effort considering that Tampa Bay has the ability to play spoiler and since they’re not playing for much of anything,
New Orleans Will Win If:
The Saints can build some more momentum heading into the playoffs if the offense can put together a complete game. The third down efforts will need to improve for that to happen and have a dominant win headed into the Wild Card.
Tampa Bay Will Win If:
Tampa Bay can pull off the upset if the Bucs offensive line can keep Cam Jordan at bay. Just last week, Winston was sacked six times against Carolina and if Jordan is able to attack the former Seminole, it might be a mirror image of the previous meeting.