Both the New Orleans Saints (1-4) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) will take to the field Sunday afternoon with both teams in desperate need of a win as they attempt to get their 2012 seasons back on track.
With both teams looking to gain ground on the undefeated Atlanta Falcons atop the NFC South, here's everything you need to know headed into the game.
When: Sunday, October 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Live Streaming: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Saints (-.2.5) according to Vegas Insider.
Even with the Buccaneers coming off of a blowout win against the Chiefs, I like the Saints here as they'll pick up their first road win of the season.
Aside from the obvious advantage the Saints have at the quarterback position—there are very few signal-callers in the NFL who can compete with Drew Brees—linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the focus of of the "Bountygate" scandal and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's ire, could play for the first (and only) time this season.
Over/Under: 49.5 according to Vegas Insider.
With neither team boasting a big-time defense capable of shutting down even the most mediocre of NFL offenses, points and scoring opportunities will be plentiful and come quickly.
If the two offenses stay true to their season averages—28.2 points per game for the Saints and 24 points for the Buccaneers—they'll beat the over by nearly a field goal. Considering the state of both defenses, this one figures to see both teams eclipse their season averages.
Saints Injuries (via USA Today)
WR Lance Moore (Hamstring): Probable for Sunday
LB Jonathan Casillas (Neck): Probable for Sunday
G Jahri Evans (Toe): Questionable for Sunday
TE Daniel Graham (Ankle): Questionable for Sunday
CB Jabari Greer (Groin): Questionable for Sunday
LB David Hawthorne (Hamstring): Questionable for Sunday
DE Turk McBride (Ankle): Questionable for Sunday
LB Jonathan Vilma (Knee): Eligible to return from PUP list on Sunday
LB Chris Chamberlain (Knee): Out for Season
T Marcel Jones (Knee): Out for Season
Buccaneers Injuries (via USA Today)
G Carl Nicks (Foot): Probable for Sunday
CB Aqib Talib (Suspension): Out for Sunday
DE Da'Quan Bowers (Achilles): Out indefinitely
DE Adrian Clayborn (Knee): Out for Season
WR Sammie Stroughter (Foot): Out for Season
DB Anthony Gaitor (Hamstring): Out for Season
G Davin Joseph (Knee): Out for Season
Fantasy Play For the Saints: Marques Colston, WR
It goes without saying to start Drew Brees, but someone has to catch his passes, and the biggest weapon he's had thus far in 2012 hasn't been injured TE Jimmy Graham—it's been veteran wide receiver Marques Colston.
Heading into last week's bye week, Colston had 18 receptions for 284 yards and four touchdowns over his previous two games against the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers, and neither of those units are as inept against the pass as the Buccaneers are.
Tampa Bay is allowing more than 310 yards passing per game, and while they've only allowed four passing touchdowns on the season, three of those came in Week 2 against the New York Giants and Eli Manning, one of the few quarterbacks and passing attacks that can be compared with Brees and the Saints offense.
Both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz wound up with over 170 yards receiving and a touchdown in that game. Colston may not reach such lofty yardage totals, but 100 yards receiving and a touchdown should be the low-end of the spectrum for him on Sunday.
Fantasy Play For the Buccaneers: QB Josh Freeman
Freeman is coming off of his best game of the season, completing 15-of-26 pass attempts for 326 yards and three touchdowns against a Chiefs defense that ranks 13th in the NFL against the pass.
New Orleans defense ranks 26th against aerial attacks, allowing more than 280 yards per game and nine touchdowns on the season.
While Jonathan Vilma returning will certainly give the Saints defense a boost, Freeman will find success on the outside with wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams against New Orleans' secondary.
You can expect Freeman to approach 300 yards with multiple touchdowns through the air on Sunday, with a chance to put up even better numbers than he did last week.
Keys to a Saints Win: Get to the QB
It's easier said than done against a Buccaneers offensive line that has allowed only eight sacks on the season, fourth fewest in the NFL.
With Vilma returning to his usual spot in the middle of the Saints defense, New Orleans should be able to send an extra defender after Freeman.
Pressuring Freeman while he's in the pocket not only leads to incomplete passes, but could lead to some poor decisions, decisions that the Saints can turn into turnovers, getting Drew Brees and the offense back onto the field.
Keys to a Buccaneers Win: Pinpoint execution
A simple statement, but incredibly important against a Saints offense that can put points on the board as quickly as any team in the NFL.
Like the Saints, Tampa Bay doesn't have a great pass rush. While they will try and get to Brees, their energy will be better spent paying attention to detail.
Whether it's helping over the top or linebackers dropping back into coverage, Tampa Bay cannot afford to blow their assignments against Brees and the Saints offense. He has multiple weapons to go to and is incredibly effective at spreading the ball around.
One blown coverage could be the difference between a win and a loss for the Buccaneers.
If you love high-scoring games, this is the Week 7 matchup for you as both teams will put points on the board.
While Tampa is coming off of an impressive win against the Chiefs, the Saints simply have too many weapons on offense for Tampa Bay to account for at all times, and Drew Brees has the advantage against nearly every other quarterback in the NFL.
Saints 38, Tampa Bay 28