Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/19/12
The New Orleans Saints have been cursed all year.  Missed last second field goals, poorly timed interceptions from a QB that normally does a good job protecting the football, and one of the craziest offseasons in NFL history have added up to a one win season. The only good moment for the Saints came at the start of their win against the San Diego Chargers, when Drew Brees broke a seemingly invincible record.Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't much better.  A dismal 2-3 record comes largely because of their games against the NFC East in Weeks 2, 3, and 4.  The teams they beat each only have one win.  However, a Saints team that just can't seem to win, despite having the top passing offense in the league.There is a glaringly obvious reason the Saints can't pull a win- the other three major categories.  They are 30th in rushing offense, despite an incredibly talented backfield, 26th in passing defense, and 31st in rushing defense. The Saints have been getting away from the run.  As of right now, they are the only team that has attempted fewer than 100 run plays, despite being middle of the pack with 3.9 yards per attempt.This week, the Saints are facing the fourth best run defense in the league.  Without Sean Payton around to keep the playcalling a little more balanced (that feels weird to say, but it's true), the Bucs will limit the Saints to 60 rushing yards on 20 attempts.  Things don't look all bad for the Saints offense.  Drew Brees has 1720 passing yards through 5 games, or 344 yards per game.  That puts Brees on pace for 5504 yards by the end of the season, 28 more than the single season record he set last year.  Some of that is because the Saints are tied for the second most attempts in the league with 236, and the other two teams that are that high (the Falcons and Patriots) haven't had their bye week yet. The Saints will again quickly give up on the run and ask Brees to carry them.  Tampa Bay plays a zone defense, but and aggressive zone defense, with players trying to jump routes and force fumbles.  Brees should have an easy time with big targets Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, both of whom have size and can elevate.  If they fail to get open, all the Saints running backs are good at leaking out of the backfield for dump passes.  With players attacking both deep and short, Brees will throw for 500 yards in this game.Rookie head coach Greg Schiano came into this season preaching basics- power running and strong defense.  However, the last two weeks he appears to have loosened the leash on Josh Freeman, who had 38 attempts two weeks ago (and just missed having 300 yards) and had 328 yards in a blowout last week before Tampa focused on burning out the clock.This week, Schiano won't have a choice against the high powered Saints offense, forcing him to let Freeman throw for 300 yards while trying to keep up, despite playing at home.However, Dallas Clark is still not playing like the fantasy stud fans remember, and Mike Williams still looks like a one year wonder.  Even with Freeman trying to bring his team back, they just don't have any weapons besides former Charger Vincent Jackson and talented rookie Doug Martin.The Saints will run away with the game and survive a late surge by the Buccaneers, winning 34-24.The author applauds Roger Goodell allowing Sean Payton to attend the game.  Payton's telepathic abilities don't work from outside the stadium, so attending the game allowed him to call in plays to Brees- that's why the Saints got their first win.You can join him in making fun of the "Aints" on Facebook (search RGDSports@yahoo.com) or Twitter (@RGDSports), or just say something in the comments section below.
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