Saints Gameday: Tampa Bay @ New Orleans

Bucs running back LaGarrette Blount

Stranger things have happened.

I’m not saying the Panthers will beat the Falcons and open the door for the Saints to clinch the top seed in the NFC. I’m only saying the Saints have made the improbable seem probable the past two seasons, so I won’t write it off completely. But if the Falcons show up as expected, the Saints are assured of  a wild card slot (#5 seed) and will have to win three games on the road to advance to their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Stranger things have happened.

Looking at today’s game, I think the Saints will take care of business. Really, this is like a playoff game. The Bucs are fighting for their playoff lives so they’ll be ready to play. The Bucs also stole a victory from the Black and Gold the last time they played in the Superdome last December, so the Saints will have that on their minds.

The biggest key to a Saints win is a simple one: Contain Tampa’s strong, elusive backs – second-year quarterback Josh Freeman and big, bad rookie running back LeGarrette Blount. If the Saints can jump out to an early lead, hold the Bucs’ ground game in check and tackle at the point of contact, they win easily. If Blount gets loose and the Bucs hang around, it could be a long afternoon for Drew Brees and company.

My take: Saints go out with a bang and stamp the end of the regular season with a resounding victory, 32-17.

Who Dat!

Update: I was wrong. The Saints looked lethargic and out of it. Maybe they were looking ahead to next week knowing this game meant absolutely nothing. Whatever the case, Josh Freeman made too many plays, LeGarrette Blount pounded out too many tough yards and, again, the Saints’ tackling was shoddy. Plus, turnovers and penalties were ridiculous. Hopefully they used up all their sloppiness and are ready to go on a 4-game winning streak.

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