Saints at Buccaneers -- Week 7

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla., (grass, outdoors)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

Spread: Saints by 2.5

Forecast: Sunny; projected kickoff temperature: low-80s.

Records: Saints (Overall: 1-4; NFC South: 0-1); Bucs (Overall: 2-3; NFC South: 1-0)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Nov. 6, 2011: Saints 27, Bucs 16; Oct. 16, 2011: Bucs 26, Saints 20. Series record: Saints lead 23-17.

What matters: The loss of coach Sean Payton and players like Jonathan Vilma in the bounty scandal have wreaked havoc on the Saints, who sputtered to an 0-4 start before beating the Chargers two weeks ago. New Orleans is coming off a bye, and if it plans to contend in the NFC South, it will have to start winning immediately. On the other side, the Bucs hope to get back to .500 before back-to-back road games, including a four-day turnaround as they play Thursday night at Minnesota.

Who matters: WR Mike Williams had arguably his best game since his breakout rookie season in last week's win over the Chiefs. He had 113 yards receiving on four catches, including a 62-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He also drew multiple pass interference penalties. For the Bucs to keep up with the Saints' high-powered passing attack, Williams will have to have another strong outing.

Key matchups: When you pit the NFL's 31st-ranked pass defense against Saints QB Drew Brees, it almost doesn't seem fair. New Orleans WR Marques Colston has been coming into his own, with 18 catches, 284 yards and four touchdowns in the team's last two games. Can anyone in the Tampa Bay secondary match up with Colston?

Injuries of note: DE Da'Quan Bowers could be close to returning, as he practiced this week for the first time since injuring his Achilles in the offseason. OG Carl Nicks was limited in practice this week with a foot injury. WR Vincent Jackson was also limited late in the week with a calf issue, but coach Greg Schiano told reporters it was a precautionary move. Saints TE Jimmy Graham has been limited in practice with an ankle injury.

Inside stuff: Tampa Bay has fared far better on offense when throwing deep. The Bucs are second in the NFL in average yardage per completion at 14. If QB Josh Freeman could be a bit more accurate (he's only completing 55.2 percent of his throws), the Bucs' offense could take off.

Connections: OG Nicks played the previous four seasons in New Orleans, earning Pro Bowl designation in 2010 and 2011. He signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason as part of the Bucs' aggressive free agency signing period, which included the addition of WR Jackson and TE Dallas Clark.

Stat you should know: The Bucs should have little problem slowing New Orleans' running game, which is 30th in the NFL at 75.2 yards per game. Tampa Bay has the league's second-best run defense, allowing 75 yards per game. But on the opposite side, the NFL's second-worst pass defense (312.2 yards per game allowed) has to face Brees and the No. 1 pass offense (326.8 yards per game). It's weakness vs. strength in run and pass when the Saints have the ball.

Record watch: When Williams and fellow WR Jackson each had more than 100 yards receiving in the team's loss to Washington, they became the first Bucs receiving tandem to top the century mark in the same game in two decades. Could they do it again? The Saints have the NFL's 26th-ranked pass defense and the league's worst total defense.

Looking ahead: The Bucs have a quick, tough turnaround after this one, as they have to travel to Minnesota for a Thursday night game. Another trip to Oakland awaits after that before the team returns home to face San Diego on Nov. 11. Tampa Bay doesn't have another NFC South game until Nov. 18 at Carolina.

Prediction: Saints 31, Bucs 27

For more from Tampa Bay Bucs blogger Patrick Southern, follow @CBSBucs on Twitter.