Bucs hope to repeat victory over Saints in season opener

- The Bucs season-opener is a rematch of last season's final game, giving the team a chance to show off any improvements made during the offseason.

Beating New Orleans with 9-seconds on the clock, 31-24, became the Bucs' signature win of the season.

It was a rare victory for the Bucs who have beaten the Saints just three times in their last 13 meetings, mainly because of just one player - No. 9.

For the last 11 seasons, Drew Brees has been the bane of the Bucs existence. He's thrown 48 touchdowns against Tampa Bay; more than any other team in the league.

Defensive end Vinny Curry called Brees "one of the best." Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith said he's a "first-ballot, Hall of Fame quarterback."

But the Bucs know what's needed to beat Brees and the Saints - and they feel the new additions to the front four will give them a stronger shot.

Jason Pierre-Paul has faced Brees three times and has yet to sack him.

"It's going to come down to who's going to beat who," said Pierre-Paul. "Beat your man in front of you. It will take care of the job. That's how I've always looked at football. No matter what, I'm always going to look at it that way."

At 39 years of age, Drew Brees has gotten better with age. He broke the NFL record for highest completion percentage in a season at 72 percent.

Smith believes it's because Brees has changed the way he attacks defenses.

"His short-passing game is a little bit more prevalent now," said Smith. "The balls aren't going down the field as many times... When you start talking about guys that are pushing 40 and still playing quarterback, there [are] only so many things that you can do with 11 guys on defense."

The Bucs are the largest underdogs coming into the NFL's opening weekend. The Saints are nearly 10-point favorites and Brees is, without question, the reason why. 

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