Week 13 of the NFL season is upcoming, and with this, the now 4-8 New Orleans Saints take on the 5-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This will be their second matchup of the season, with the first ending in a 20-10 win for the Buccaneers, which can be partially attributed to the Saints having an injured quarterback who threw 3 interceptions. They come into this game after a 13-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and the Buccaneers after a loss to the Cleveland Browns by a score of 23-17. In this article, I will cover how the Saints’ passing offense and Buccaneers’ passing defense have performed so far this season, and then will project how they will perform against one another on Monday Night Football. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
How have these two units performed this season?
Starting off on the Saints’ side of things, they have statistically performed well in the passing game, however, as of late they have struggled immensely with throwing the ball before the play develops, which leads to a loss of first-down chances. This is reflected by the team being 11th in passing first downs, which is not horrendous, but it is also worth noting the Saints pass the ball at a high rate with the run game being utilized less and less. Other than that, the Saints rank 7th in passing yards (2,996), 10th in yards per reception (7.5), 14th in completion percentage (65.2%), T-6th in passing touchdowns (19), have the 2nd most interceptions thrown (12), and have allowed the 15th lowest number of sacks (26).
On the other hand, the Buccaneers’ pass defense has been very hit-or-miss so far this season. In terms of some stats, they have fared well, allowing the 4th least passing yards (2,112), the 10th least passing first downs (117), the 10th lowest passing first down success rate (32%), have the 3rd most sacks (36), and have allowed the 12th lowest completion percentage (63.4%). They have also allowed the 12th most passing touchdowns (17) and are tied for the 10th least interceptions (7).
How will these units perform against each other?
To put it simply, the Buccaneers stack up well against the Saints, as the Saints are battling IOL injuries, and the Bucs have one of the best front sevens in the NFL. This will not only keep Andy Dalton on his toes but will likely lead to him being sacked at least a few times on Monday night and forcing him to make throws that he shouldn’t. On top of that, despite the low interception rate, the Buccaneers’ pass defense has been solid enough to stop opposing offenses from torching them in the passing game the large majority of the time, which bodes poorly for the Saints as they have refused to run the ball the last few weeks.
With Alvin Kamara having a tough time holding onto the ball, that is also going to be a concern here as it may force the Saints to pass more and more as the game goes on, and if they go down in scoring, they may just cut the run game altogether. Is this the right way to go about things? No. But it is what we have seen from this team time and time again down the stretch. The Bucs definitely on paper have the advantage in this matchup of units and have proved to be effective in their previous matchup this season.