The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won 14 of their most recent 15 games, but when it comes to the New Orleans Saints, Tom Brady and company have hit the wall. At least in the regular season.
The Saints swept the annual series last season, including Brady’s debut as a quarterback for the Bucs. Tampa Bay, however, ended a five-game losing streak to New Orleans in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs when the Buccaneers defeated New Orleans 30-20 on the road, in Drew Brees’ last game with the Saints.
These are the five players to follow in this divisional duel of Week 8:
1.- QB Tom Brady, Buccaneers
Brady, who last week became the first player in history with 600 regular-season touchdown passes, didn’t have a good time against the Saints in his first year with the Bucs.
In Week 1, “TB12” had two interceptions at New Orleans and in early November he threw three more against the Saints in Tampa, a game that Brady finished with a horrible 40.4 rating, by far the lowest of the season.
This year, the 44-year-old veteran leads the NFL in completions (203), passing yards (2,275) and touchdown passes (21). In 11 road games since joining the Bucs, Brady has 3,514 yards, 28 touchdowns and three interceptions.
2.- RB Alvin Kamara, Saints
Kamara comes into this game having totaled 179 combined yards (128 passing, 51 rushing) in New Orleans’ win in Seattle on Monday.
Kamara needs eight more receptions to beat Roger Craig’s record (358) for a running back in his first five NFL seasons.
Kamara is the Saints’ leading catcher with 25 catches, 241 yards and four touchdowns. The duel against the Tampa Bay linebackers will be key in this game.
3.- RB Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers
Fournette has at least 100 combined yards in three of the four most recent games this season.
The Bucs’ running game is starting to get more productive, and Fournette is a big part of that success, averaging 80.2 yards in the past four weeks.
Tampa Bay ranks 21st among rushing offenses, with 99.1 yards per game.
4.- CB Marshon Lattimore, Saints
The Bucs’ passing offense is the most prolific in the league so far, with 324.3 yards per game, and Lattimore will be on a mission to deal with Mike Evans, the best wide receiver Brady has available.
They have an intense rivalry with very embarrassing chapters, like the one in which Evans was suspended for hitting Lattimore from behind when the play had already finished, in a game in 2017. The incident cost the Bucs wide receiver a suspension, But last season they also traded blows in last season’s game at New Orleans.
5.- TE OJ Howard, Buccaneers
With Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown missing due to injury, Brady has had to look for new targets in the passing game, in addition to Evans and Chris Godwin (21 targets between them last week against Chicago).
Howard had three targets, but only one reception for nine yards. Brady is likely to look for him again this Sunday, particularly in the red zone, and Howard should be ready when his name is called.
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Five A-Players Continue in the Buccaneers vs. Saints