Bucs-Saints Preview

This is it boys and girls. This one is for all the marbles. It's the Battle of the Alcohol-induced, Bead-throwing, Topless Females Celebrations. Mardi Gras vs. Gasparilla.

In years past Gasparilla was forced to play second fiddle to his (her?) older brother (sister?) to the north. Insecure co-eds flocked to New Orleans like fraternity guys to a keg. But it's been a down year for Mardi Gras, not as many people are showing up as they used. Puking beer in a dark alley off of Bourbon Street does not hold the same appeal it used to (especially when said street is under two feet of water).

Seizing the opportunity Gasparilla is hoping to put the strangle hold on Mardi Gras with a celebration of the indecent and immoral. Sex cruises and whizzinators have nothing on a parade which features young 20-somethings flashing what-God-gave-them for cheap plastic beads (ahh, the memories).

So when Sunday rolls around remember what you are rooting for. Not another win, or a playoff berth, but the right to say my city has the best party. Go Bucs!

Offense. Defense. Special teams.

Saint's Offense vs. Buc's Defense

DVOA . . . . Saint's offense . . . . Buc's defense
Total . . . . . -12.9% (# 21) . . . . . -9.0% (# 9)
Rushing . . . -12.2% (# 24) . . . . . -17.7% (#4)
Passing . . . -13.6% (# 25) . . . . . -0.5% (#16)

This Saints offense has been beat up more times than a trailer trash housewife. Saints decide to center their offense around Deuce McAllister this season, Deuce goes down for the season with a torn ACL.

Saints are forced to go to Aaron Brooks more often as a result, then Brooks attacks Paul Tagliabue. As a result the commish forces Jim Haslett to bench Brooks for the rest of the season (check the bylaws, the NFL commish has this power). Now some stiff named Todd Bouman is under center for the Saints and Haslett is clearly throwing games for a chance at Reggie Bush (why else would Haslett demand a contract extension?).

Football Outsider's stats don't paint the same picture as the NFL's traditional stats. By yards per game the Bucs have the fourth best passing defense, but by FO's stats the Bucs are mearly ranked sixteenth. Which is about fair considering the Buc's secondary has given up far too many late drives against poor quarterbacks such as Joey Harrington and Cody Pickett (40 Best Bucs points if you can even name which team Pickett plays for). The few highlights in the secondary have been Ronde Barber's interceptions and Will Allen's cheap shots.

Buc's Offense vs. Saint's defense

DVOA . . . . Buc's offense . . . . Saint's defense
Total . . . . . -15.7% (#17) . . . . . 12.0% (#28)
Rushing . . . -10.8% (#21) . . . . . 12.5% (#28)
Passing . . . -0.8% (#15) . . . . . . 11.5% (#25)

The Bucs poor statistical showing can be attributed to the rash of injuries which have plagued the offense. When Cadillac Williams went down the Bucs lost the ability to move the chains on a consistent basis. It took Chris Simms a couple of weeks to get comfortable in the offense after Brian Griese went down with a torn ACL. And if Michael Clayton could stay healthy the Bucs would have one of the more dangerous passing offenses in the NFC.

The Saints defense is dreadful, but their pass rush forced one of Simm's poorer outings of the season. Simms had only 123 passing yards while going 12 for 21. The Bucs only scored 10 points against the Saints last game.

If the Bucs can win this game they will win the division title and guarantee themselves the third seed in the NFC playoffs. If they lose, there's no telling what will happen. The Bucs could still win the division or they could miss the playoffs entirely.

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