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Laine Ewen: Bucs vs. Saints Preview: Winning on Waivers?

December 26th, 2009, 10:12 pm admin Leave a comment Go to comments

This week, I’m starting the following running backs on my fantasy football team:

Thomas Jones (NYJ)
Jerome Harrison (CLE)
Quinton Ganther (OAK)

Only one of these three players was on my roster 3 weeks ago. (Three guesses which one…) But then my fantasy team is not very good–I made the playoffs thanks to a tie in week 1–and each week, as I face the Chris Johnsons and MJDs of the world, I have to hit the waiver wires to pick up someone, anyone, who might score enough points to help me eke out a win.

Last week I lost by 40 points. For the record.

I only mention my pathetic fantasy team because over the past couple of weeks the Bucs seem to be hitting the waiver wire as much as I have. After Sammie Stroughter was put on IR this week, the Bucs dropped midseason pickup Yamon Figurs and added former Buc and the team’s first ever kickoff-returner-for-touchdown Micheal Spurlock to the team. (The Bucs still intend to use rookie Kareem Huggins on kickoff returns.) On Wednesday the Bucs picked up WR Mark Bradley, who was released by the Kansas City Chiefs after dropping nine passes this season. (Though Michael Clayton will be back this week, so the Bucs should have their dropped pass quota covered without him.)

I’m aware that Exalted Mediocrity (my team) is seriously lacking in talent, and no matter how many moves I make in the next week or two I’m going to get pummeled, but I wonder if the Bucs are similarly aware of their chances for the rest of the season–particularly against the Saints this week.

The Bucs face the Saints at a bad time. Not only is the NFC South’s top team coming off their first loss of the season (which means that they are out to prove their mettle), but they still need a win to bank the top slot in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs (which means they will not likely be benching their starters).

I suppose it might be argued that the Saints are facing the Bucs at a bad time, too. After all, the Bucs are coming off their second win of the season–a complete butt-whooping of the Seattle Seahawks. Not only did rookie QB Josh Freeman get his mojo back–throwing for two touchdowns in the second half and only one interception in the game–but the much improved defense held the ‘Hawks to 7 points total.

But let’s be realistic, the Saints are not the Seahawks. Last time the Bucs and Saints played each other, the Saints won 38-7. In fact, the loss was so bad that Coach Raheem benched Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates immediately afterwards and took over the defensive play-calling himself. And though the Bucs defense has seen tremendous improvement since Rah has been in charge, the Saints have approximately 72 capable receivers in the passing game, and an extremely effective rushing game–ranked 5th in the leage–led by Pierre Thomas. The Bucs will have to improve on their 30th-ranked rush defense to have a chance to stop the Saints this week.

The Bucs offensive success will rest on the running game as well. The Saints are ranked 18th in the league against the run, and Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson will have to keep sending Cadillac Williams and Derrick Brooks up the gut in order to gain yardage. Because the Jets game was proof that Josh Freeman is not going to have any luck forcing balls to receivers when they are well-covered (<> Darelle Revis <>), and Darren Sharper isn’t going to let Kellen Winslow become a major factor in this game. Which leaves a banged up Antonio Bryant, Michael Clayton, Maurice Stovall, and Brian Clark to gain yardage in the pass game.

Oh, and Mark Bradley. Thank goodness for him.

Cross-published on chicksinthehuddle.com.

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