Bucs, Saints both ride winning streaks into NFC South clash
TAMPA BAY (6-1) at NEW ORLEANS (4-2)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT, Fox
OPENING LINE: Buccaneers by 5 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Tampa Bay 3-4; New Orleans 3-3.
SERIES RECORD: Saints lead 37-22.
LAST MEETING: Buccaneers beat Saints 30-20 on Jan. 17 at New Orleans in playoffs.
LAST WEEK: Buccaneers beat Bears 38-3; Saints beat Seahawks 13-10.
BUCCANEERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (21), PASS (1), SCORING (3).
BUCCANEERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (1), PASS (23), SCORING (10).
SAINTS OFFENSE: OVERALL (29), RUSH (11), PASS (31), SCORING (17).
SAINTS DEFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (3), PASS (20), SCORING (3).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Buccaneers plus-7, Saints plus-4.
BUCCANEERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Tom Brady became the first player to throw 600 career touchdown passes during last week’s 38-3 victory over the Bears. He leads the NFL in completions (203), passing yards (2,275) and TD passes (21). In 11 road starts since joining the Bucs in 2020, the seven-time Super Bowl champion has thrown for 3,514 yards, 28 TDs and just three interceptions.
SAINTS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Alvin Kamara had a season-high 179 scrimmage yards (128 receiving, 51 rushing) in wind-driven rain in Seattle last week and needs just eight more catches this season to surpass Roger Craig (358) for the most by a running back in his first five seasons in NFL history.
KEY MATCHUP: Bucs star receiver Mike Evans and Saints No. 1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore have had intense matchups in the past, once resulting in Evans getting suspended one game for leveling Lattimore from behind after the whistle in 2017. The two scuffled again in a game in the Superdome last season.
KEY INJURIES: The Bucs had a couple key defenders sitting out practice this week, including DT Ndamukong Suh (knee) and edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/hand). Bucs WR Antonio Brown also has been hobbled by an ankle injury. The Saints entered the week with starting guard Andrus Peat (pectoral muscle), return specialist and receiver Deonte Harris (hamstring), reserve QB and utility player Taysom Hill (concussion) and rookie defensive end Payton Turner (calf) all nursing injuries. ... Saints top receiver Michael Thomas has yet to play this season while recovering from offseason ankle surgery.
SERIES NOTES: The Saints swept the season series between the NFC South rivals last year before having a five-game winning streak against Tampa Bay snapped in the first-ever playoff matchup between the teams.
STATS AND STUFF: The Bucs have won 14 of their past 15 games and are off to the best start in franchise history. ... Brady threw for 211 yards and four TDs last week against Chicago, his 37th career game with at least four TD passes. He’s thrown for at least three TDs in a game 97 times. Both of those marks are tied for first with Drew Brees. ... Bucs RB Leonard Fournette has 100-plus yards from scrimmage three of the past four weeks as Tampa Bay’s running game has shown signs of coming to life. The defending Super Bowl champs have the league’s top-ranked passing attack (324.3 yards per game), but are only 21st rushing (99.1 per game). ... Brown has a league-high 17 multi-receiving TD games. Evans, who had three scoring receptions last week, is second with 15. ... Saints QB Jameis Winston passed for 222 yards and a TD without an interception in Week 7. Winston has six TDs vs. no INTs for a 138 rating in two home starts this season. ... Winston was selected No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay in the 2015 NFL draft. Winston is the Bucs’ franchise all-time leader in yards and TDs passing (19,373 and 121). ... Kamara has receiving TDs in his past two games and at least 115 scrimmage yards in his past four games. ... WR Marquez Callaway has at least 70 yards receiving in two of his past three games and has three TDs receiving in his past four games. ... DE Cameron Jordan had his first sack of the season at Seattle. Jordan ranks fourth in the NFL with 94 1/2 sacks since 2012. ... LB Demario Davis had 10 tackles and a career-high four tackles for loss with two sacks and a pass defensed last week. Davis has a sack in his past two games. ... S Malcolm Jenkins had his first sack of the season last week and intercepted Brady in the teams’ last regular-season meeting.
FANTASY TIP: While the Saints wait for Thomas to come back to bolster their receiving game, they’re running the offense through the dynamic Kamara, who has 301 yards and three TDs from scrimmage in his past two games.
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