"I feel good getting back out there, just doing what I love to do," said Revis. "I was just more excited to be out there with my teammates. They've been anxious, I've been anxious, so it was a great feeling."
Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman had an up and down game, throwing for 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 15-of-31 passes. His best play of the day was when he found an uncovered Jackson on 3rd-and-10 with under two minutes remaining, which set up what appeared to be the winning score.
New Orleans leads its all-time series against Tampa Bay by a 25-17 margin. The Saints are coming off of a season sweep against the Buccaneers in 2012, including a 41-0 win on December 16 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which was the club's first shutout since 1995. Earlier in the season on October 21, New Orleans escaped Tampa with a 35-28 win.
The Saints will be aiming to start the season 2-0 for the first time since the 2010 campaign and increase its winning streak against the Bucs to four games.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
An efficient and balanced Saints offense put up 419 total yards, while successfully converting six-of-13 third down opportunities in Atlanta.
Brees worked in the usual suspects, Colston, who became the club's all-time receiving leader with his 533rd career catch in the second quarter, Sproles who had a game-high 140 all-purpose yards and Graham, who caught the third quarter go-ahead seven-yard touchdown from Brees.
"It's hard to believe that it's been eight years, but consistent is a great way to start," Payton said when talking about Colston. "He's been very consistent. He's a task master in that somebody who will work very hard at his game, specifically on the individual routes. He's big inside; I know Drew (Brees) has a lot of confidence in him."
The depth at the skill positions, at least proven depth, is probably not what it was during New Orleans' Super Bowl heyday but this group is still awfully difficult to stop when Brees and the other main characters are healthy and hitting on all cylinders.
This is a big test for Tampa Bay's defense, especially the remade back end featuring Revis, Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson and rookie corner Johnthan Banks.
"He's an elite quarterback, not only in this time but in the history of the league," Schiano said when queried about Brees. "This guy is special. You're not going to stop him, no one does. Can you contain him? That's more of the challenge, that's what we need to do."
Offensively, the Bucs need more consistency from Freeman and a bigger ability to hit things down the field when teams are focusing in on second-year running back Doug Martin, who ran it 24 times for 65 yards and a touchdown versus the Jets.
"You have to make people pay when they're going to try to take away Doug Martin," Schiano said. "You can't always pound your head into a wall. You've got to make them pay."
Tampa Bay's offense could get a boost from the return of ex-Saints guard Carl Nicks, who practiced Wednesday for the first time in a month as he attempts to return from a MRSA infection and toe surgery.
Brees has won three in row as a starter against the Bucs, completing 80-of-112 passes for 942 yards with 10 TDs and just two picks over that span. Since joining New Orleans in 2006 the All-Pro leads the NFL with 33,928 passing yards and 246 TD throws.
Meanwhile, Freeman had a career-high 420 passing yards the last time the Saints were at Tampa and Jackson set a franchise record with 216 receiving yards on seven catches. Freeman is particularly effective when he's able to extend things and make things out of nothing.
"One of the things with Josh has always been his ability to extend plays," Payton said. "It's been tough for us."
Expect a shootout and it's hard to bet against the Saints in that kind of environment.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saints 34, Bucs 24