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Buccaneers vs. Saints preview

The New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off two of the most unexpected results of the NFL season.

The Saints were dismantled at Dallas, losing 38-17 in a Sunday night stunner. The Bucs, meanwhile, went into Pittsburgh and won their first game of the season 27-24 with second-year quarterback Mike Glennon taking over for injured veteran Josh McCown.

Both teams head into their NFC South showdown in New Orleans at 1-3 on Sunday. For the home team, it's an absolute must-win after such a lousy start. The Saints have put themselves in a position where they might have to go 8-0 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the third time in four years.

The Bucs will be decisive underdogs, but that offers them an opportunity to completely reverse their fortunes after hitting rock-bottom two weeks ago in a 56-14 loss at Atlanta.

ESPN.com Saints reporter Mike Triplett and Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas discuss this week's matchup:

Triplett: So what was the key to last week's turnaround? And more importantly, any reason to believe the Buccaneers can sustain it on the road at New Orleans?

Yasinskas: The Bucs were a completely different team from Week 3 to Week 4. It had a lot to do with them getting thoroughly embarrassed by Atlanta. They took that personally. They went to Pittsburgh trying to prove they weren't as bad a team as everyone thought. It helped that Gerald McCoy and Austin Seferian-Jenkins returned from injury, but Glennon also gave the offense a spark that had been missing in the first three weeks. Can the Bucs win two in a row on the road? That's a lot to ask. But if they play like they did in Pittsburgh, they could have a shot.

Mike, I saw the Saints as a potential Super Bowl team in the preseason, and here they are at 1-3. What's gone wrong?

Triplett: It requires a little bit of everything going wrong to manage a start like this. The offense has actually been pretty sharp at times, with both Drew Brees and the run game starting strong -- but it has been too stop-and-start, with lulls in every game. The bigger problem has been the defense. They've had a rotating list of problems, from missed tackles in Week 1 to secondary breakdowns in Week 2 to an inability to stop the run last week. And they rank dead last in the NFL in turnovers, with just one takeaway in the first quarter of Week 1.

It's been a head-scratcher because the Saints' defense was so good last season, and it has most of the same core players (plus the addition of Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd). But they're simply not coming together. The Saints need to start forcing teams into more uncomfortable situations so pass-rushers Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette can start to produce more consistently. And they must do it this week against a young quarterback with the home crowd on their side.

What's the book on Glennon? Will Tampa Bay be conservative with him or let him take some shots?

Yasinskas: Glennon is not the typical young quarterback. He's matured and poised. I don't see the Bucs being too conservative with him. They opened things up for him in the Pittsburgh game, and I think they'll do the same against the Saints. The Bucs would love to go heavy with the running game, but chances are that's not going to work. They need to throw the ball, and Glennon can make all the throws. They'll let him take some shots downfield.

Speaking of downfield, the Saints have a lot of money tied up in that area. Has the secondary been as good as it's supposed to be?

Triplett: Not even close. No. 1 cornerback Keenan Lewis has remained pretty solid. Byrd and highly touted second-year safety Kenny Vaccaro have shown flashes of their ability -- but not nearly enough. Both safeties have missed too many tackles in the open field. The Saints made a switch at No. 2 cornerback from Patrick Robinson to Corey White. And communication was a big issue during their Week 2 loss at Cleveland.

It looked like they were on the right track in a 20-9 win against Minnesota at home in Week 3, when Rob Ryan simplified his scheme by eliminating the on-field checks and adjustments. But clearly it remains a work in progress.

I also expected better things from the Bucs this season, mainly because of their defense. Obviously, they didn't hold up well against Atlanta. Any optimism Tampa Bay can handle the Saints and all their weapons in the Superdome?

Yasinskas: Shutting the Saints down in the Superdome might be too much to ask, and this defense hasn't been great at stopping opposing offenses. But the potential is there for this defense to be good. The Bucs had five sacks last week, and McCoy and Michael Johnson showed they can rush the passer. The Bucs need to keep the pressure going to have a chance.

Brees is known for his competitive streak. How has he handled the start and how has he played?

Triplett: If it's possible for his intensity to turn up a few notches, it will. And he'll be looking to take out his frustrations on the Tampa Bay defense. But Brees is also known for his unflinching optimism. He actually spent most of his postgame news conference the other night pointing out how easily their first-half 24-0 deficit could have been 10-7 instead. (And when I went back and watched the tape, he was right -- he looked sharper than I realized, based on the result.)

Brees hasn't gotten the ball downfield consistently enough this season, but he has the best completion percentage of any full-time passer in the NFL. He remains the Saints' best hope for turning this mess around.