2 keys to a NOLA Saints victory over Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 15

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The NOLA Saints will be faced with an uphill battle this Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will have to do so without head coach Sean Payton, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

With Dennis Allen filling the void as acting head coach, and Pete Carmichael being the offensive play-caller, there’s no doubt that Payton will still be missed on the sidelines. If the Saints want any chance of winning on Sunday night, here are a few things they will have to do right to come away with a win.

Generating pressure with the pass rush

Tom Brady is one of the best in the league in getting the ball out quick to his receivers, and only getting pressured on 14% of his drop-backs this season attests to that. New Orleans’ defense has been Brady’s “kryptonite” since he joined Tampa Bay.

When Brady went on-air with Peyton Manning and Eli Manning on Monday Night Football earlier this season, Brady joked around saying the best way to guard his receivers was to get up in their face and play them one on one. That is exactly how the Saints’ defense has found success against Tampa Bay’s offense.

By taking away the quick pass for Brady, that gives New Orleans’ front four times to generate pressure and make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket. The Saints will need to find a way to generate pressure without sending a blitz, as that is how they have had success defending Brady in games past.

With Leonard Fournette performing like a top dual-threat back in the league, New Orleans will have its hands full trying to stop both the run and pass game.

With the sixth-ranked rush defense and 18th-ranked passing defense, respectively, this New Orleans defense has always come ready to play against Tampa Bay. New Orleans is allowing 20.7 points per game over the last four games against Tampa Bay, almost 11 points per game less than the league-leading 31.5 points per game.

The Saints will need to play up to that statistic if they want to have a chance of winning.

Finding success through the air

The Buccaneers come into this week having the third-best rushing defense and the 25th-ranked passing defense in the league. If the Saints want to avoid running into stacked boxes all game, they will have to find success throwing the ball with Taysom Hill.

With Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead both out this weekend, the Saints will be without two vital pieces of their offensive line in an important game against a great pass-rushing defense.

Hill will more than likely have to be the difference-maker in this game if New Orleans wants a shot at winning. His decision-making will have to be precise, like knowing when a blitz is coming to set protection, knowing when to stay in the pocket and let a play develop, or when to take off and run to try and make a play.

This will be the Buccaneers’ first time going up against the NOLA Saints with Taysom Hill as the starting signal-caller. With the healthiest defense in a while for New Orleans, Hill will need all the help he can get against a great Buccaneers division rival.

With a once depleted secondary, Tampa Bay seems to finally be getting healthy and ready to make another Super Bowl run. New Orleans will more than likely need to win three of its next four games to have a chance at making the post-season.

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