All eyes will be on your Buccaneers for the third time this season as they get a rematch with the division-rival New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football this weekend. The first time around was in New Orleans and happened to be the first game of the season. It was continuity that won out without a preseason and an abbreviated training camp due to the weird year that is 2020. The Saints had relatively little turnover as compared to 2019 whereas the Buccaneers' offense looked drastically different. Quarterback Tom Brady was still getting to know his new system and his new teammates. He welcomes New Orleans to his new home much more comfortable with both now.
The Buccaneers have the fourth-ranked scoring offense now and Brady is off to one of the best starts of his career. He has 20 passing touchdowns through eight games, which is tied for the third-most in the league. The Buccaneers have also scored the most points through eight games in franchise history with 247. Couple that with the fact the other side of the ball has the best rushing defense in the league and third-ranked defense overall, you've got a team that is firing on all cylinders. And they'll have to be to face the Saints who despite some early season struggles, are on a three-game win streak just like the Bucs.
It's the game of the week where the whole country will be watching. Check out exactly where and when to listen to the primetime matchup, along with some key facts below.
New Orleans Saints (5-2) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)
All-time record: New Orleans leads the all-time series 36-21
Home record: 9-15
1. Buccaneers T Donovan Smith vs. Saints DE Trey Hendrickson
Like Demario Davis last year, Hendrickson is the breakout star on the Saints' defense in 2020. After starting just three games and recording a total of 6.5 sacks from 2017-19, the former third-round pick out of Florida Atlanta has started every game this year and already has 5.5 sacks through seven games. That not only makes him a great complement to five-time Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan but also the team's sack leader, as Jordan has been limited to 2.5 QB takedowns so far. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Hendrickson also has the best pressure rate among the Saints' defensive linemen, at 11.9%, compared to 7.0% for Jordan. And Hendrickson has been particularly effective on third downs, recording a pressure rate of 25.7% that leads the entire NFL among players with at least third-down pass rushes. Hendrickson and Jordan mostly stay on their own sides, with Hendrickson primarily rushing from the right edge of the Saints' line, and that will make him the responsibility of Smith, the Bucs' left tackle, for much of the evening. Smith has helped anchor an offensive line that has played very well in 2020, particularly in terms of protecting Tom Brady, and Smith has the job of keeping rushers off Brady's blindside. Brady has only been sacked twice in the last three games combined and has only been hit nine times in that span. Tampa Bay ranks first in the NFL on offense with a sack rate of 3.24%. When Smith is at the top of his game, he has the power, size and quick feet to shut down any opposing edge rusher.
2. Saints RB Alvin Kamara vs. Buccaneers ILB Devin White
The potential returns of wide receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders could change the Saints' approach in Week Nine, but for most of the 2020 campaign the team's offense has been the Alvin Kamara Show. And it has drawn very good reviews. In fact, here's one on Tuesday from Bruce Arian: "I coached Marshall Faulk, and this guy is scarier." That is extremely high praise, but it's worth noting that Kamara is on pace to break the NFL's season-season records for catches and receiving yards by a running back, the latter of which currently belongs to Faulk. Kamara leads the Saints in rushing with 431 yards, and while he has been splitting the ground game workload with Latavius Murray (87 and 71 carries, respectively), he is far and away the team leader with 66 targets in the passing game. Nobody else on the team has more than 36, though again that will likely change significantly when Michael Thomas returns. Drew Brees is only averaging 6.0 air yards per pass this season, one of the lowest figures in the NFL, which is obviously because he is so often quickly getting it into Kamara's hands and letting the great open-field runner do his work. There is little doubt that the Buccaneers' linebackers, White and Lavonte David, will have multiple opportunities to try to stick with Kamara in pass coverage, and both Buccaneer 'backers have multiple pass break-ups this season. While White has made his biggest plays this season while rushing the passer – 5.0 sacks in his last three games – he does have the speed and open-field tackling ability to counter teams that throw to their running backs frequently. Kamara scored twice in the Week One matchup of these two teams, but he was held to 67 yards from scrimmage; in his other six outings, Kamara has averaged 153.3 yards from scrimmage.
3. Buccaneers WR Scotty Miller vs. Saints CB Patrick Robinson
The Buccaneers have three potentially big stories at wide receiver this weekend, as noted above: Antonio Brown's debut, Chris Godwin's return and Mike Evans' near-complete recovery from an ankle injury. So why are we focusing on a fourth receiver in Miller? Precisely because those other stories could see the Buccaneers' extremely fast second-year wideout get a little lost in the noise. Miller actually leads the Buccaneers with 400 receiving yards through eight games and his average of 16.0 yards per catch is also the best among all Tampa Bay pass-catchers. He has developed into a reliable deep threat who clearly has the trust of quarterback Tom Brady, and his 33-yard back-corner end zone catch in Las Vegas might be the Buccaneers' prettiest play of the season. Miller had five catches for 73 yards against the Saints in Week One and it was essentially a 100-yard game because he also drew a 28-yard pass interference penalty on Patrick Robinson. There's a good chance that Miller will draw a lot of coverage from Robinson again, as the Saints like to try to shadow Evans with Marshon Lattimore. However, it's a bit more difficult to predict what the New Orleans defense approach will be with Brown and possibly Godwin in the mix. Either way, Miller could be the one who springs open for the game's big play if the Saints are trying to figure out what to do with all those other pass-catchers.
4. Saints WR Deonte Harris vs. Buccaneers CB Ryan Smith
Harris has recently seen more playing time on offense with Emmanuel Sanders sidelined, as he was in on 53% of the Saints' snaps in Chicago and caught three passes for 19 yards. He also had four grabs and a touchdown in Week Seven against Carolina. However, the area where Harris threatens to hurt the Bucs the most remains on special teams, and especially on punt return, where he is averaging a robust 16.1 yards per return on 11 tries. In the season opener, Harris had four punt returns for 59 yards, including an 18-yarder, as he helped the Saints post a huge edge in average field position to start drives. He made the Pro Bowl last year as an undrafted rookie for his return prowess and will be a big consideration when the Buccaneers are deciding how to target their punts. Last week in Chicago, Harris set up a pair of field-goal drives with a 42-yard punt return and a 31-yard kickoff return, the latter of which sent the game into overtime. Smith is essentially the stand-in here for the Buccaneers' entire coverage units, as he is usually one of the two punt gunners and has been the team's best special teams player for the past few seasons. Smith is one of the fastest players on the Bucs' roster and he's adept at getting around the blockers who are trying to slow him down at the line. If Bradley Pinion does kick the ball where Harris can get to it and try a return, it will be critical for Smith and other Bucs coverage men to be on top of him quickly before he make a couple sharp cuts and find the open field.
(via Scott Smith)
Uniform Combination: Red jersey, pewter pants, black socks
Watch on TV:
- Sunday, November 8, 2020
- Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET
- Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
- Television Network: NBC
- Broadcast Crew: Al Michaels (play by play), Cris Collinsworth (color), Michele Tafoya (reporter)
Watch on Mobile:
The stream is available through Yahoo Sports, the Buccaneers Official App and online at Buccaneers.com.
*Please check local listings to confirm availability. Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.
- TAMPA BAY/SARASOTA…………...WXTB 97.9 FM Bucs Flagship Station
Broadcast Crew: Gene Deckerhoff (play by play), Dave Moore (color), T.J. Rives (sideline)
- SPANISH RADIO..............................WTMP 96,1 Caliente … 101.9 and 1470AM
Broadcast Crew: Carlos Bohorquez (play by play), Martin Gramatica (color)
*In-market fans can listen through the Bucs Official App
- BROOKSVILLE ………………………….WWJB 1450 AM/103.9
- DAYTONA BEACH……………………..WRKO 93.1 FM
- FT MEYERS/NAPLES …………….. WWNC 99.3 FM
- GAINESVILLE/OCALA ……………… WRUF 850 AM/ 98.1 FM
- HOMOSASSA SPRING……………….WXCV 95.3 FM
- LAKELAND ……………………………….WLKF 1430 AM
- MELBOURNE ……………………………WICX 1060 AM
- ORLANDO…………………………………WYGM 740 AM/ 96.9 FM
- PORT ST. LUCIE…………………………WPSL 1590 AM
- PANAMA CITY…………………………..WGSX 104.3 FM
- PENSACOLA……………………………..WBSR 1450AM/101.1 FM
- SEBRING……………………………………WWTK AM 730 AM
- TALLAHASSEE…………………………...WTSM 97.9 FM
Sirius/XM Channel 88
On the Bucs Official App*
*Access restricted to Tampa area
Social Media Accounts:
Follow the club for live gameday updates, videos and behind-the-scenes photos.
Who's playing who in Week 9?
Thursday, Nov. 5
Sunday, Nov. 8
- New York Giants at Washington Football Team (1 p.m. ET on FOX)
- Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. ET on FOX)
- Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (1 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs (1 p.m. ET on FOX)
- Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (1 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts (1 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. ET on FOX)
- Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons (1 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET on FOX)
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET on CBS)
- New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8:20 p.m. ET on NBC)