When Tampa is throwing: When 2011 AJ Feeley – having not started in ages – pushes you to behind 24-0, you know your secondary has a problem. That said, Josh Freeman has been a great tune-up for young secondaries. Edge: New Orleans, slightly.
When Tampa is running: When the Colts pile up 155 rushing yards while being blown out 62-7, you know your run defense has a problem. Edge: Tampa Bay.
When New Orleans is throwing: The Bucs secondary is the strong spot on this team. Teams rarely go the length of the field on them and their physicality disrupts things. Edge: even.
When New Orleans is running: Here it is. Josh Freeman really can help his run defense out by having some good drives. I think he’ll have a few, but this – albeit rested – defense has been run on by Matt Forte and Frank Gore in two of their last three games. There won’t be Mark Ingram, but Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles – and Chris Ivory – will be fine. The Saints made no attempt to establish a run game last time. I’m sure they will, given Brees’ 3 INTs last meeting. Edge: New Orleans, strongly.
PREDICTION: I really want the Bucs to win – and I think they’ll be good as Raheem is 2-0 after byes – but I get the feeling the team with the better quarterback will win what is nearly a must-win for both teams. Prove me wrong, Bucs. Saints 17, Buccaneers 16.
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