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Scouting the Saints 2015 Opponents: Week 2 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Let's dissect each of our opponents this upcoming season.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are visiting the Dome to face the Saints on Sunday, September 20th. Let’s do some breakdowns ahead of the match-up to get a glimpse of what the Saints are marching into.

Series Matchup All-Time

(Full list here, via The Football Database)

Saints 29 – Bucs 17

The Saints are 12-7 against the Bucs with Brees.

Last 5 Games

(2013-2014) Saints 23 - Buccaneers 20

(2013-2014) Buccaneers 31 - Saints 37

(2012-2013) Buccaneers 17 - Saints 42

(2012-2013) Saints 16 - Buccaneers 14

(2011-2012) Saints 41 - Buccaneers 0

The Saints have won the last 7, with Tampa winning 26-20 @ Raymond James Stadium in October, 2011.

2014-2015 Buccaneers Totals

(Saints #1 total offense, #31 total defense according to ESPN)

Total Offense #30

Passing/YPG #25

Rushing/YPG #29

Total Defense #25

Passing/YPG #28

Rushing/YPG #19

Projected Rosters

Saints

Buccaneers

Offense

QB

Drew Brees

Jameis Winston

Luke McCown

Mike Glennon

Garrett Grayson

Ryan Griffin

RB

Mark Ingram

Doug Martin

CJ Spiller

Charles Sims

Khiry Robinson

Bobby Rainey

WR

Brandin Cooks

Mike Evans

Marques Colston

Vincent Jackson

Willie Snead

Louis Murphy

TE

Josh Hill

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Benjamin Watson

Brandon Myers

LT

Terron Armstead

Donovan Smith

LG

Tim Lelito

Logan Mankins

C

Max Unger

Evan Smith

RG

Jahri Evans

Ali Marpet

RT

Zach Strief

Gosder Cherilus

Defense

LDE

Akiem Hicks

George Johnson

LDT

John Jenkins

Gerald McCoy

RDT

Kevin Williams

Clinton McDonald

RDE

Cam Jordan

Jacquies Smith

Sam

Hau’oli Kikaha

Danny Lansanah

Mike

Stephone Anthony

Kwon Alexander

Will

Dannell Ellerbe

Lavonte David

LCB

Keenan Lewis

Alterraun Verner

RCB

Brandon Browner

Johnathan Banks

NCB

Delvin Breaux

Tim Jennings

SS

Kenny Vaccaro

Major Wright

FS

Jairus Byrd

Bradley McDougald

Special Teams

K

Zach Hocker

Kyle Brindza

P

Thomas Morstead

Jacob Schum

Key Bucs

Offense

Jameis Winston: This is strictly obligatory. The first overall pick of the draft has to be given some consideration, and given the Bucs open against the hapless Titans (though I do like Mariota), what Winston can (or cannot) do in the NFL will be no more obvious come week 2. He’ll have VJax and Mike Evans to throw to, and the 6’6" Austin Seferian-Jenkins, despite his terribly long and hyphenated name, looks to break out in his second year under, ostensibly, a better QB than Mike Glennon.

Mike Evans: I expect instant chemistry between Evans and Winston – Mike Evans will be Jameis’ new Rashad Greene, for better or worse. In his inaugural campaign, Evans posted 68 receptions 12 TDs and over 1,000 yards. Expect each of those numbers to increase in 2015 (including targets, which were 122 in 2014).

Defense

Gerald McCoy (3x Pro Bowl, 3x FT All-Pro): When you take away both his height (6’4") and his weight (300 lbs), Gerald McCoy isn’t really all that big. And when you take away his elite run-stopping ability and exceedingly above average pass rush (as a DT), he’s no better than the Bucs’ safeties. However, since you cannot take away any of those things, and since McCoy is a veritable menace, he’ll yet again be the stuff of Brett Ingalls’ nightmares this season. McCoy got a sack in his lone game against the Saints last season, but look for him to attempt to quintuple that number this season.

Lavonte David (1x FT All-Pro): While not the best pass rushing 4-3 LB (see: Von Miller) in the NFL, David remains a solid run defender and is no slouch in coverage. He’s fast and he’s indiscriminate. David had a fumble forced, 4 stuffs, and 13 tackles against the Saints in 2 games last season. He’s also PFF’s 6th ranked 4-3 OLB (WLB) from the 2014 season. Run the ball right at him.

Alterraun Verner (1x Pro Bowl, 1x ST All-Pro): Though Verner doesn’t have the accolades of Gerald McCoy, they each likely agree that they’re certainly not the Bucs’ safeties. Verner, while having an underwhelming 2014 season, was ranked 7th by PFF among all CBs (91 spots ahead of Keenan Lewis). Also per PFF, he’s graded as the single best run-stopping CB in the NFL (way ahead of #2, Richard Sherman). Expect Verner to be asked to take on the Saints best WR both games this season.

TL;DR

Clearly, the most obvious question with regards to this game is what Jameis Winston looks like. Neither of our wins against Tampa last season were convincing (though the draft tank game at the end of the season deserves an asterisk), and losing two of our productive receivers doesn't help. That said, with a renewed commitment to the run, including the addition of Spiller and a shored up o line, the Saints lack of production against the Bucs on the ground last season looks to pick up. Brees also didn't play particularly well in these games, but opening up the run will create opportunities in the passing game - And Brees, despite his age, can work magic with an added second in the pocket. Look for Winston to try and make some "too cool for school" passes and pad the stats of our secondary. And, as always, beware of Gerald McCoy.

First divisional game - Let's go 8 in a row against TB. Who Dat!

Feedback on depth chart and other bits of information to include in this series is appreciated.