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Beating the Bucs: Get Up Early and Never Look Back

First off, Happy Holidays to all you Saints fans out there, and I hope that any of you that celebrated Christmas yesterday had a fun filled relaxing day with friends, family, and good food. With Christmas now in the books we're turning our attention to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who the Saints will host on Sunday. You may remember the first time these two teams met earlier this season in Tampa, when a close game at halftime turned into a bloodbath by the end, with the Saints laying a 38-7 beat down on the Bucs. I fully expect nothing less in this game. I expect the Saints to bounce back from a dismal showing last week against the Cowboys which produced their first loss of the season. I fully expect the Saints to come into this game prepared, ready, hungry and steady. I also fully expect the Saints to cover the 14 point spread and I recommend that any of you betters out there take the Saints and give the points.

Buccaneers vs Saints coverage

I could give you guys statistics, what the Saints need to do to win this game, what the Bucs are good/bad at. But let's face it, none of that trumps the fact that the Saints are a flat out much better team. Forget the fact that, yes, the Bucs had their most impressive showing of the year against the Seahawks last week and forget the fact that the Saints had their most unimpressive showing against the Cowboys at the same time. It shouldn't matter. The game is in New Orleans, the Saints are 13-1 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-12.

The Saints can wrap up homefield advantage with a win and the Buccaneers are playing for what little pride they can possibly have left based on how their season has gone. Simply put, if the Saints put together a nice first quarter and get up early, there is no way the Bucs will hang around. As always there's a reason they play the game and you can't take this for granted, but this is the first time I've felt the Saints need to show some urgency all season.

I was not worried despite the poor showing against the Cowboys. If the Saints do anything short of embarassing Tampa in a game they absolutely need then I'll officially be worried. This is an opportunity to bounce back against a Tampa team that struggled mightily all season long and accomplish a goal that all 32 teams go into a season vying for: The top seed going into the playoffs.

The last thing the Saints want to do is to go to Carolina next week in desperate need of both confidence and a top seed. They need to take care of business now and make sure that week 17 is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage.

So specifically, I want to see the first quarter end with the Saints up by two scores. Whether it's 14-3, 10-0, or 17-0, I want the offense to come out firing and the defense to start better than they have in recent games. My fear is that if Tampa hangs around long enough, they'll begin to believe they can pull something off and start to "play with the big boys."

How do you see the game starting out and how will that impact the rest of the game in your opinion?