Skip to main content
New Orleans Saints

Saints News | New Orleans Saints |

Presented by

New Orleans Saints key ingredients to victory against Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 2023 NFL Week 17

Running game must be more effective in regular-season road finale


We'll not concern ourselves with the level of help the New Orleans Saints (7-8) would need in order to advance to the playoffs this season. Rather, as the Saints prepare to play Sunday against the Buccaneers (8-7) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., we'll solely concern ourselves with what the Saints can do to even their record at .500.

1. KEEP IT CLOSE: No need to mention starting fast; they know it and it simply hasn't happened much this season as the team repeatedly has fallen behind by 10 or more points in first halves. So, stay close early and conjure the second-half execution that actually has been consistent this season. That'll be work, because Tampa Bay has averaged 29 points per game during its four-game winning streak, and quarterback Baker Mayfield especially has been potent – 76 of 121 (63 percent) for 1,010 yards and nine touchdowns, with one interception – during the stretch. But if the Saints can keep it close, and hopefully not spend most of the game digging out of a hole, they may have the juice remaining to pull out a road win.

2. MEASURED AGGRESSION: New Orleans had an aggressive mind-set against the Rams, and paid dearly when the aggression wasn't rewarded. The Saints did not convert on any of three fourth-down attempts, and the short field that was provided to the Rams was costly. Los Angeles scored 13 points after the Saints turned over the ball on downs and, added to the touchdown the Rams scored following an interception, 20 points were scored on drives of 50, 58, 41 and 56 yards. The defense wasn't put in an optimal position to win, and a similar scenario can't play out at Raymond James Stadium. The Saints have to force the Buccaneers to work a little harder for their scores, and it'll help if Tampa Bay has to travel longer distances than the aforementioned ones.

3. DO RUN RUN: New Orleans had 35 rushing yards on 16 carries against the Rams and, obviously, that won't cut it. That's too much of an imbalance and there's too much pressure on the passing game to be effective, which is immensely more difficult to do when the opponent knows it has taken away the run. Get Alvin Kamara more involved, and not just as a runner. Option routes out of the backfield and screen passes can serve as extended handoffs and assist the running game.

4. DYNAMIC DUO: If the Saints' offense has proven nothing else this season, it has shown that receivers Chris Olave (81 catches for 1,041 yards and four touchdowns) and Rashid Shaheed (41-640-4) can be a fearsome combination. Each has the ability to stretch the field (Shaheed especially has been prolific, with seven catches this season of 40 or more yards) and Olave has rebounded nicely from an early slump. Their presence should make life easier for the passing game because of the attention they draw, so if the offensive line can provide sufficient protection, quarterback Derek Carr can hopefully hook up a few times with the young, talented receivers.

5. STAY SPECIAL: In two of the last three games, the Saints have forced a fumble on a punt attempt (linebacker Nephi Sewell) which was recovered and returned for a touchdown (linebacker D'Marco Jackson), and deflected a punt (safety J.T. Gray) that traveled eight yards and set up a touchdown pass. It's a lot to ask of a unit to block, deflect or cause a fumble in three of four weeks, but pressure could lead to a poor, returnable punt for Shaheed. Anything that helps flip the field will be a big bonus.

6. ON THE MIKE: With no Marshon Lattimore at cornerback, will the Saints devote as much man-to-man coverage to Bucs receiver Mike Evans as they have in the past? We know the history between Lattimore and Evans, and we know why – Lattimore possibly has been the most successful corner against Evans in Evans' illustrious career. And Evans is having another outstanding season – 73 catches for 1,163 yards (the 10th consecutive 1,000-yard season to open his career) and a league-leading 13 touchdowns. The Saints may be less inclined to show as much man-to-man as in past seasons.


Little Caesars® is always the winning play on Saints gameday! Order online at during Pizza!Pizza!® Pregame — 1 hour before or 3 hours after kickoff on Thursdays, Mondays, and all day Sunday. You'll score fun perks and be entered to win a trip to Super Bowl LVIII! No purchase necessary. Visit for rules.

Related Content