1) DT Gerald McCoy**
The defensive tackle has a special relationship with Saints' QB Drew Brees, training with him for the past eight consecutive years. McCoy widely regards Brees with the utmost respect, while also acknowledging that both the competitors absolutely hate to lose to one other. McCoy says Brees will even give him a wink in a game should Brees make a play on him. The prolific pass rusher will be on his 'A' game trying to get to number nine this week, so look for that matchup to be especially pronounced as the Bucs try to increase their sack numbers.
2) QB Jameis Winston
After a down day against the Panthers at home, quarterback Jameis Winston will be looking to return to his prior form. Save for last Sunday's contest against Carolina, Winston has been racking up yardage. He has four games this season with over 300 yards passing, which ties the franchise record for a single season. With a familiar opponent and the chance to gain some ground in the division going into New Orleans, Winston will want to be especially effective. He also will have a full week of practice reps under his belt, something he hasn't been able to do since suffering a shoulder injury to his AC joint of his throwing arm in Week 6 against Arizona.
A look back at all of the match-ups between the Buccaneers and the Saints.
3) P Bryan Anger**
A player that often flies under the radar is Bucs' punter Bryan Anger. In games against familiar opponents, field position cannot be undervalued, especially with a quarterback as effective and consistent as Drew Brees. Forcing Brees to start drives deep in his own territory will be a key to slowing the Saints' offense down. Anger downed three punts inside the 20 in Sunday's contest against Carolina, half of his punts in the game. Against the Cardinals he downed three of his four inside the 20. If Anger can keep that consistency and force the Saints offense to drive the length of the field, it should help the defense in stopping them before they reach the end zone.
4) RB Doug Martin
Running back Doug Martin seemed to get into a little bit of a rhythm in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Panthers. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken made it a point to say that Martin has been doing a great job of 'making something out of nothing' lately. Martin has been solid, averaging 3.8 yards a carry. Sunday's tilt against Carolina was the first game that really saw Martin's long-run capability. On the Bucs' second possession of the second half, the running back exploded for a 17-yard gain, followed immediately by a nine-yard gain to move the Bucs down the field quickly. That drive resulted in a Pat Murray field goal to get the Bucs on the board. In order for the Bucs to be a balanced offensive attack against a good New Orleans defense, Martin will have to be involved early and often.
5) Bucs' Linebackers
Neither Lavonte David nor Kwon Alexander has registered a sack this season. Granted, injury has sidelined the two for multiple games and David has been effective in forcing turnovers, instead. Still, against a familiar foe and with the Bucs' pass rush struggling so far this season, it will be a focus to get to Drew Brees before he can get the ball out of his hands. It will be no easy feat as the quarterback has one of the quickest releases in the NFL this season. It'll be on the defensive front to disrupt that and the linebackers to back it up.