Quick Take: Saints-Buccaneers

In Brief

» Last meeting:Matt Bryant's 37-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining put the Bucs ahead for good as they secured a 23-20 victory over the Saints on Nov. 30, 2008.
» Streaks: The Bucs have won three of the past four, but trail the overall series, 20-14.
» Last week: New Orleans knocked away St. Louis' desperation pass as time expired, hanging on for a 28-23 victory. ... Tampa Bay surrendered a late drive to Miami and lost in heartbreaking fashion, 25-23.

Keep your eye on ...Josh Freeman's command of the huddle: Since the rookie quarterback Freeman became a starter in Week 9, the Bucs have played far better. He has four touchdowns in his two starts and his teammates seem to have responded to his leadership. It will be tough for him this week, though, against a Saints defense that has preyed on young quarterbacks in 2009.

Aqib Talib's ball-hawking skills: If Drew Brees has one potential weakness, it is that he is not afraid to put the ball in harm's way in an effort to give his receiver a chance to make a play. Brees has seven interceptions in his last four games, and Talib (with five picks already this season) has the ability to capitalize should Brees make an errant throw.

New Orleans' mental toughness: The pressure of having a perfect record seems to have worn on the Saints over the past few weeks. They needed second-half comebacks to beat the Dolphins and Panthers, and nearly got taken down by the struggling Rams last week. Tampa Bay is playing at a high enough level right now that if the Saints aren't sharp, they could get upset.

Did you know?

The Saints are 9-0 for the first time in team history. ... New Orleans averages a league-high 36.8 points per game. ... Tampa Bay's Clifton Smith is second in the NFL with an average of 30.1 yards per kickoff return. ... Bucs K Connor Barth became the fourth player in NFL history with three 50-plus yard field goals in a game last week.

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