Two NFC South teams are set for battle in week one, as the South Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to the SuperDome to take on the New Orleans Saints. This games location was in doubt with the recent hurricane down south, but the damage to the SuperDome was nowhere near what it was years ago, and the Saints will be able to play this game at home.
Tampa Bay has had a tough preseason, as they have not had their full offense on the field with QB Jeff Garcia being sidelined with a calf injury. They need his mobility to help out their offensive line, and it was his feet that created some big plays last season as he had a Pro Bowl year. With the injury, he may be a bit limited, which won’t help the Bucs at all. Look for the Saints pass rush to try and get to Garcia early and often.
The Bucs will look to Earnest Graham to put up some yards on the ground, and his success will open up a Garica speciality – the play action. If Graham can’t get going against the Saints D, it will make life all the more tougher for the Bucs passing game. If the running game can keep New Orleans on its toes, Garica and company can make plays vs a Saints secondary that is trying to rebound after a poor 2007.
The Saints feel their offense is better than last year, with a returning Duece McAllister to help a running game with Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, and Aaron Stecker. Drew Brees has some solid wide outs to throw to, as Marcus Colston will be his number one along with 2nd year WR Robert Meachem, who has shown a lot during camp. Look for Brees also to get new TE Jeremy Shockey involved in the offense. Shockey is being looked at as a secret weapon that can stretch the field.
New Orleans will spread the field and make quick throws to keep Brees upright against a solid Bucs D-line. Look for the game plan to be to try and get the ball to Colston, Bush and Shockey and for Brees to take some shots down the field agianst the Bucs secondary.
There is a feel that the Saints are a team that will rebound to be more like the 06 version than the 07 team that failed to make the playoffs. They will start that trek towards the NFC South title with a key win over the defending champs at home.