The Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the New Orleans Saints in Week 9 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 27
Coverage by: Bill O’Brien
Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense vs. New Orleans Saints defense
- WR Mike Evans vs. CB Marshon Lattimore – The Saints rookie cornerback is making a strong case for defensive rookie of the year, as the Saints appeared to have nailed their 2017 first-round pick. Lattimore currently ranks sixth out of 108 qualified cornerbacks in yards allowed per coverage snap at a rate of 0.56 yards allowed. He will be in for a challenge this weekend as he will square off against Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and has averaged 1.84 yards per route run, which ranks 20th out of 83 qualified receivers.
- TE Cameron Brate vs. LB Craig Robertson – Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate has come into his own over the past couple of years as one of the better tight ends in the NFL. This season, Brate has earned an overall grade of 84.8, which ranks tied for second among 65 qualified tight ends. The Saints will rely on linebacker Craig Robertson to slow down Brate in pass coverage. Robertson has proven to be one of the tougher linebackers to throw at this season. Now in his sixth season in the NFL, Robertson on average has allowed just one reception every 15.1 coverage snaps, which is the fourth best rate among linebackers.
- T Demar Dotson vs. Edge Cameron Jordan – This week’s matchup between Demar Dotson and Cameron Jordan is a matchup of truely elite players, as both players are currently the highest graded player at their respective position. Jordan has spent the majority of his snaps rushing from the defensive left side this season for the Saints and has turned in a pass-rush productivity rating of 11.3, which ranks 19th among 107 qualified edge defenders. Buccaneers right tackle Demar Dotson has been up to the challenge against other edge defenders this season, as he currently ranks first among tackles in pass-blocking efficiency with a rating of 98.2.
PFFELO Ranking: 10
Coverage by: Andrew Fleischer
Matchup: New Orleans Saints offense vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense
- WR Ted Ginn Jr. vs. CB Ryan Smith – Ted Ginn Jr. may be the Saints’ No. 2 wide receiver, but since the team’s bye in Week 5, he leads the team with 275 receiving yards. He’s raised his overall grade in the process from 52.7 through the first four games to his current 78.7 through seven, and his wide receiver rating of 141.0 is second among 83 wide receivers with at least 25 targets. Brent Grimes is likely to miss his second consecutive game with a shoulder injury, and based on last week’s snaps, Ryan Smith will step in to cover Ginn Jr. on Sunday. Smith earned a decent 69.6 overall game grade in a spot start last week, but he’s already missed two tackles in 68 passing snaps for a 6.5 tackle efficiency mark, tied for 157th out of 198 cornerbacks with at least 50 snaps against the pass.
- RB Alvin Kamara vs. LB Lavonte David – Through eight weeks of his 2017 rookie season, Alvin Kamara has proven himself to be an effective pass-catching running back. His 2.02 yards per route run is the third highest number among 16 running backs with at least 32 targets. He’s also done well purely as a runner, and his 76.2 overall grade is the sixth highest among rookie running backs. He’ll draw an extremely difficult assignment when catching passes (or running) in the neighborhood of linebacker Lavonte David. David’s 94.4 overall grade is the second-highest among all linebackers, as is his 88.7 coverage grade. His 10.8 run-stop percentage is sixth highest among 54 linebackers with at least 118 run snaps.
- T Terron Armstead vs. Edge Robert Ayers – Terron Armstead missed the first four games of the season recovering from shoulder surgery in June, but has solidified the left tackle position for the Saints over the past three games, earning a 74.4 overall grade. His 77.9 pass-blocking grade is tied for 22nd among 74 eligible tackles, and his 95.8 pass-blocking efficiency rating is the 18th highest among eligible tackles. He’ll be opposed by defensive end Robert Ayers, whose 83.4 overall grade ranks 22nd out of 108 edge defenders with at least 130 snaps. Ayers’ pass-rushing productivity mark of 9.2 is tied for 38th of 62 edge defenders with at least 99 pass-rush snaps.