For one team on Sunday a victory will put a band-aid on a late-season losing streak. For the loser, the bleeding continues.
The Saints' current 3-game losing streak follows a 3-game winning streak. For the Bucs, their current 3-game losing streak follows a 4-game winning streak. Statistics would suggest it comes down to the Bucs controlling a slumping Drew Brees and the Saints controlling a rolling Doug Martin.
The Bucs have the top-ranked defense in the league against the run, and the worst defense in the league against the pass. Brees has thrown a league-worst 18 interceptions with nine of those coming in the last three games. Safeties have feasted on Brees. 16-year veteran Ronde Barber intercepted him on the first Saints' possession in the first meeting, one of Barber's 4 picks on the season. That's about a quarter of the Bucs' 17 on the season -- fourth in the NFL.
Though Josh Freeman threw for a career best 420 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting, he hasn't topped 265 yards in seven games since. When he goes to the air he'll be looking for rangy Vincent Jackson, whose 20 yards per catch leads the NFL and 50 of his 56 receptions have resulted in first downs.
The Bucs figure to pound rookie running back Doug Martin into the NFL's most ineffective rushing defense. His 1234 yards lead all rookie runners. He's had four 100-yard games this season, averaging 95 yards per game -- almost exactly what the Saints' average on the ground as a team offensively