Time: 1:00ET/Noon CT
Announcers: Dick Stockton, John Lynch
Line: Saints by 8.5
Injury Report: NEW ORLEANS — RB Mark Ingram (OUT), LB Jonathan Vilma (QUESTIONABLE), DT Shaun Rogers (PROBABLE), LB Jonathan Casillas (PROBABLE), DE Junior Galette (PROBABLE), DT Sedrick Ellis (PROBABLE), T Zach Strief (PROBABLE), TE David Thomas (PROBABLE)
TAMPA BAY – DT Frank Okam (OUT), G Jeremy Zuttah (OUT), C Jeff Faine (PROBABLE), QB Josh Freeman (PROBABLE), S Tanard Jackson (PROBABLE), DT Brian Price (PROBABLE), WR Sammie Stroughter (PROBABLE), RB LeGarrette Blount (PROBABLE), DT Gerald McCoy (PROBABLE), TE Kellen Winslow (Not Injury related, Expected to Play), LB Mason Foster (PROBABLE)
Key Matchup: Bucs Defense vs. Drew Brees
Last Week: Buccaneers on a Bye , Saints lost to Rams 31-21
Last Meeting: October 16, 2011 — Buccaneers 26, Saints 20
Series History (Since 2001): Buccaneers lead series 11-9
Last Minute Preview: The Bucs are 7 games into their 2011 season and much like last year, they have no idea who they are. Well at least if they know they’re keeping it a secret. This is a must win for the Bucs and there is no way around that. If they win, they have redeemed themselves from an abominably game against the Bears and will reclaim first place for the second time this year. They will also claim the tie-breaker over the Saints so should things continue they way they’re going and the Bucs end up tied with the Saints, Tampa has the upper hand.
Josh Freeman needs to settle down. He’s acting young and that’s not what he’s been doing these past few years. He’s been forcing passes and trying to create plays that aren’t there. He’s my guy, but he’s not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning yet and it’s showing. We have seen what happens when Freeman lets things develop, then reacts. The Bucs win. When he rushes thigns and tries to get a step ahead of the action, he fails and the Bucs lose. The formula is simple and if Tampa wants to beat the Saints for a third straight year in the Superdome, then this must be closely followed. The defense will have Gerlad McCoy back and that’s only a plus. Tampa has managed well without him, and beat the Saints with him on crutches. Having him back just adds another element back to this defense that needs to force mistakes by Drew Brees and contain his weapons to win. It’s not going to be easy but it’s not impossible. Tampa is 2-0 in their last two meetings against the Saints which is the sign of a changing tide int he NFC South. Whether that statement holds any weight or not will be known at roughly 4:15 eastern time.