The Saints and The Bucs will face off this weekend in Tampa Bay for a battle to see who will sit on top of the NFC South. I was just looking at the standings and was shocked to see that The Bucs are at 3-2. I guess I just haven’t been watching…maybe a highlight here and there. I did see a chunk of the 49ers/Bucs game and that’s probably why I find a 3-2 standing so hard to believe. The 49ers are a much better team than they have been in recent years, but they’re not near as good as The Saints….nor is the NFC West vs The NFC South. I would have hoped for a better showing from our Division against the worst division in football (I’m pretty sure that no one would argue that).
How do we stack up against each other? As I mentioned in my last post, I think our quarterback is better, our defensive coordinator is better, our special teams are better and our defense is playing better. But let’s look at the numbers. What really separates 4-1 from 3-2.
Strictly speaking our defenses have given up the same amount of points (125), but The Saints are ranked #16 in defense and The Bucs are ranked #23. The Saints are giving up 354 yards per game while The Bucs are giving up 387…not a huge difference. The Saints have 3 interceptions, The Bucs have 2. The Saints have 14 sacks, The Bucs have 10.
The difference, as one would expect, is in the offensive matchup. The Saints outscore the Bucs by a healthy margin, 31 to 17, and move the ball far more effectively (452 yds/game vs 332 yds/game). With our league-leading third down efficiency (59%), I expect a strategy that keeps our offense on the field in order to keep theirs off.
Not to get too down on the defense…there has been at least one turnover by our offense in every game, putting them in some difficult positions. They need to tighten up on third down conversions – clearly allowing the opposing team to stay on the field more often than they should have. However, they have made the big stops when it counts – that has been evident in all the games so far this year.
Let’s just not wait until it’s down to wire….do we really have to make NFL Replay EVERY week?