WHEN: Noon Sunday
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
RADIO: WWL-AM, 870, WWL-FM, 105.3 in New Orleans; KMDL-FM, 97.3 in Lafayette; WDGL-FM, 98.1 in Baton Rouge
RECORDS: Both teams are 1-3.
LAST WEEK: The Bucs visited 2-2 Pittsburgh and upset them 27-24. Filling in for quarterback Josh McCown (brother of backup Saints quaraterback Luke McCown), who was sidelined with a torn thumb ligament in his throwing hand, the Bucs’ Mike Glennon completed 21 of his 42 throws for 302 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Glennon’s second scoring throw was with seven seconds left in the game. ... In Dallas, the Saints turned the ball over three times and created no takeaways as they lost 38-17 to the Cowboys (3-1). The Saints allowed running back DeMarco Murray to gash them for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
COACHES: Bucs: Lovie Smith, first season (1-3); Saints: Sean Payton, eighth season (74-42)
(Average per game; league rank in parenthesis)
Points: Saints, 23.8 (T-15th); Bucs, 18.0 (29th)
Total yards: Saints, 425.8 (3rd); Bucs, 290.8 (30th)
Rushing: Saints, 131.2 (11th); Bucs, 96.5 (24th)
Passing: Saints, 294.5 (3rd); Bucs, 194.2 (32nd)
Points: Saints, 27.5 (T-27th); Bucs, 29.8 (31st)
Total yards: Saints, 396.0 (29th); Bucs, 387.8 (25th)
Rushing: Saints, 123.5 (21st); Bucs, 115.2 (18th)
Passing: Saints, 272.5 (T-28th); Bucs, 272.5 (T-28th)
Bucs: Quarterback Mike Glennon, running back Bobby Rainey, running back Doug Martin, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, linebacker Lavonte David, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, safety Dashon Goldson
Saints: Quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, running back Khiry Robinson, linebacker Curtis Lofton, safety Kenny Vaccaro
Offense: Neither their passing nor running offense is much to write home about. They’ve gotten most of their yards on the ground as well as many through the air from unheralded running back Bobby Rainey, whose 199 yards off 41 carries are the 19th-most in the NFL. He also has a touchdown and 118 yards off 13 receptions, but he has lost three fumbles. Through the air, Mike Glennon had tall targets in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, both 6-foot-5. But Evans should be sidelined with a groin injury, and Tampa Bay’s aerial attack is the worst in the NFL, averaging just 194.2 yards per game.
Defense: A defense that is surrendering the NFL’s eighth-most yards per game is quarterbacked by 2013 first-team All-Pro linebacker Lavonte David. He’s in a three-way tie for fifth-most tackles in the league (38), a nine-way tie for second-most forced fumbles (two), and has a fumble recovery.
Special teams: The Bucs have been vulnerable in this phase. For example, in a loss to St. Louis, they had a punt and field goal blocked. In a loss against Atlanta, they gave up a 62-yard punt return touchdown to Devin Hester, who set an NFL record with the score, his 20th on a return. Their kicker Patrick Murray is a lackluster 7-for-10 on field goals, with all of his misses coming from beyond 40 yards, and two of them from beyond 50.
-- Despite their 1-3 start, the Saints have only one less victory than the two rivals they trail in the NFC South: Atlanta and Carolina, both 2-2. Beating Tampa Bay, their third divisional rival, would keep the Saints fully alive in the early going of the NFC South race, and it would obviously put some distance between them and the Bucs.
-- It could be said that Bucs coach Lovie Smith has had Saints counterpart Sean Payton’s number a little bit. Smith’s Bears teams ended the Saints first three seasons under Payton, dealing New Orleans a defeat in the NFC Championship Game in 2006 and then losses that mathematically eliminated them from the playoffs in 2007 and 2008, all in Chicago. Payton got Smith the lone time he visited New Orleans with the Bears as the Saints routed Chicago 30-13 in 2011.
-- Since the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV at the end of the 2009 campaign, they’ve won four of their six encounters with the Bucs. The Bucs were the last team to beat the Saints in New Orleans with Payton on the sideline. Since that game at the end of the 2010 season, the Saints have won 18 consecutive contests at home with Payton coaching, including the playoffs. That excludes the 2012 season, when Payton was suspended in the wake of the bounty scandal.
-- Bucs special-teams standout Russell Shepard, who was a member of LSU’s football team from 2009-12, will be playing in New Orleans for the first time as a pro.
-- Rookie Saints cornerback Brian Dixon’s twin brother, Brandon, plays cornerback and on special teams for Tampa Bay. They attended Northwest Missouri State together. Dixon signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent and made the roster at the end of the preseason. Brandon was a sixth-round draft pick for the New York Jets in May, was cut and subsequently signed with Tampa Bay. Along the same lines, Saints safety Jairus Byrd’s dad, Gill, is the Bucs cornerbacks coach. Gill Byrd was a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback for the San Diego Chargers from 1983-92.