Defensively, the New Orleans Saints played their very best game of the season in my opinion against a very dynamic Niners offense. Only to get “zero” help from their offense. It is still a great sign for the defense going forward and they only look to progress getting maybe their most important player back on that side of the ball. Marshon Lattimore looks to be back for next week's game as he finally was able to practice last week since dealing with a kidney/rib injury.
A perfect gift for Mike Evans in December... ;)
Yes, the Saints will be headed to Tampa to play our old friend Tom and his crew of passengers. The Bucs are currently in a little bit of shipwreck of their own along with the Saints as they sit with a 5-6 record coming off a bad loss at Cleveland. But this team still has the talent to turn things around with a plethora of weapons in the passing game.
Let’s see how the Saints passing defense stacks up against the Brady’s unit through the air.
How have these units performed this season?
When it comes to the Bucs passing game, they currently sit at 5th in the league passing yards per game, 8th in passing touchdowns and 11th in passer rating. Still at the top of the league in all major categories. Brady and the offense have had many woes offensively and haven’t been able to sustain drives for much of this season. It is hard to count them out though when they have the weapons that they do. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin aren’t having huge statistical years but are still playing at a consistent level. The two share just about an equal number of targets on the year Evans with 85 and Godwin with 86. Their next biggest threat comes out the backfield who is New Orleans native Leonard Fournette, who has 43 receptions on the year. After that, the share is wide ranged but there are players like Julio Jones of course that can give you a sudden wow play at any moment. Cade Otton is another young player who has done some good things as well in the passing game, a young player that Brady is starting to trust a bit more each week.
When it comes to the Saints secondary, they currently rank 7th in passing yards allowed 5th in passing touchdowns allowed and have given up the 15th lowest in passer rating in the league to opposing quarterbacks. A very solid performance last week has pushed these numbers towards the top of the league, and it should only get better once Marshon Lattimore returns which it sounds more and more likely that it will be in this game. Lattimore started practicing for the first-time last week just getting his feet back under him but this week he should be full go barring anything unexpected. The secondary has looked better and better as the season has progressed specifically at the cornerback position. Paulson Adebo has had a very solid stretch of games the past couple weeks including last week's encore where he deflected three passes and played a crucial role in forcing some field goals in the red zone. Alontae Taylor has also been a bright spot at times as he is still getting his feet wet. He had a long interception return called back last week from an illegal contact call by his teammate Chris Harris Jr. who has not been very good for the team as of late. Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye on the backend really haven’t let up any huge plays lately but do lack some athleticism and speed to where there have been some woes against faster, quicker players. But overall, the secondary has done a fine job as of recently.
What to expect in this game?
I expect this game to be a very similar game to the previous ones. I believe the Saints will get a lot of pressure on Brady which will allow the secondary some breathing room. I expect the team to travel Lattimore a little more in this one or maybe even play some snaps in the slot mainly because of the way Tampa moved Mike Evans around a bit in the first matchup. The Saints must also have a plan for Chris Godwin especially if Bradley Roby isn’t available as he was out today at practice with a concussion. Chris Godwin is one of the best slot receivers in the NFL and having Chris Harris Jr. over him for the duration of the game should give the Saints a negative result. It is possible we see Alontae Taylor possibly step into that role and continue to develop there. It would certainly bode well for the team's future at the position if he can play that spot effectively. The thing we still need to see from the Saints is turnovers and Brady has less than a handful through the air on the season. However, I do expect the Saints to force Brady into one in this game. With Lattimore back and if they can continue to build on the pressure they put on Jimmy G, I think they’ll get Brady late in the game. It’s hard to say at this point in the season with the way things have unfolded, but I expect the secondary to have a lot of success in this game.