It’s Week 16, and we’re back again with the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Sander of Bucs Nation answers 5 quick questions about the upcoming matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
How does this Bucs team compare to the one the Saints faced just a couple of weeks ago? Any injuries or lost/returning players?
The Bucs team is mostly the same, except for one position: right tackle. The Bucs had already lost Demar Dotson when they played the New Orleans Saints last time, and he has not yet recovered, but now Gosder Cherilus has been ruled out for today's game as well. That leaves them very short-handed at that position, and it's something Cameron Jordan could well take advantage of.
Jameis Winston looked like two different QBs in last week's loss to the Dallas Cowboys at times. Which Winston do you expect to show up this week? The Jameis Winston that led to four lost turnovers or the Winston that was able to show precision and good decision-making on a drive leading to a late-game lead?
I don't think these are two distinct versions of Jameis Winston, you'll see some of both of them in every game. The biggest question is not whether he'll put together a few good drives, because he always manages to do that, but whether he can limit his turnovers. That's something he's done very well over the past few months, with the exception of last week's game. As long as he can do that, he can still be inconsistent, but lead the Bucs to an overall productive day.
What lesser-known offensive player will have a big game that Saints fans might not have heard of before the weekend?
I keep saying this every week, but the answer is Russell Shepard. The Bucs have so many injuries at wide receiver that it's easy for a special teams ace to get playing time there, and he seems to make impact plays in every single game where he gets extended playing time. Expect the same to happen today, especially with the Saints' secondary limited as it is.
What player on defense do you expect to give Drew Brees and the Saints offense the most trouble?
The answer here is always Gerald McCoy. He's given the Saints fits over the years, and that should continue today. He's the key cog in a pass-rush that's done very well over the past months, though he did struggle a bit against the Dallas Cowboys last week, and if you try to single block him he will make your guards look silly -- and then try to eat Drew Brees alive. Unfortunately for the Bucs, the Saints know not do that, but he still manages to impact every game.
Predictions for the game? Final score?
I think the Bucs win this one and keep their playoff hopes alive, but it'll be a close game and a high-scoring one at that. Unlike two weeks ago, I expect a big-time shootout that'll be decided on who turns over the ball the least. I think the Bucs eventually win it, 31-30.
Thank-you, Sander, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out Sander and the work his guys are doing over at Bucs Nation. You can follow them on Sanders and Bucs Nation on Twitter @Bucs_Nation, and of course you can always follow me @dunnellz.