An NFC South Showdown Emerges for ‘Monday Night Football’

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-6 behind QB Tom Brady this season. Most NFL teams would see that as an embarrassing record, but it’s enough to lead the NFC South as the Bucs prepare to meet the New Orleans Saints on “Monday Night Football.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady shows frustration on the field. The NFC South leaders meet the New Orleans Saints on “Monday Night Football.” (Image: Associated Press)

The Bucs host the 4-8 Saints in a game with huge ramifications in the division. The Saints could move to number two after the Atlanta Falcons fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

New Orleans comes in with just one win in the last four games, including a goose egg against the San Francisco 49ers last week. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, is coming off a loss to the Cleveland Browns last week that ended a two-game winning streak.

Brady Admits Mistakes

The Bucs haven’t lived up to expectations this season. Most of the core players on the team that won the Super Bowl last year are still around, but the Bucs have disappointed this season.

  Saints Buccaneers
Moneyline +150 -175
Spread +3 (-110) -3 (-110)
Over/under O41 (-110) U41 (-110)
  Courtesy of DraftKings  

One of the biggest surprises for the team has been the performance of Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans. His chemistry with Brady in their first season together was something that left fans stunned, with the duo performing like they had been together their entire lives.

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Not so much anymore, though. In their third year together, Evans and seven-time Super Bowl winner Brady seem to be playing like they’ve never seen each other, let alone shared time on the field.

Brady blames himself for a lot of the Bucs’ missteps. He no longer feels like the hero he once was, and the 15-time Pro Bowler acknowledged that the Buccaneers must improve their passing game in order to give the defense some relief.

After facing the Saints, Tampa Bay will close out the season against the 49ers, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Arizona Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers, and the Falcons. They’re hoping to get into the playoffs for a third consecutive year.

Saints Have Work to Do

The Saints, with a roster still full of veterans, are aware of what’s at stake. Despite the team’s troubles and injuries this year, they’ve still shown flashes of greatness, even if they’ve been only brief and fleeting.

Still, there are several things to keep in mind. Both Brady and Saints QB Andy Dalton have the same number of passing TDs (14) this season. If Dalton can stay focused and get help from the offensive line, he can give the Bucs’ defense a lot of problems.

Saints wide receiver Chris Olave has turned out to be a smart pick for the team, even if he doesn’t have a line that’s giving 100%. The rookie has covered 822 yards receiving this year, enough to put him almost 200 yards ahead of any other first-year receiver.

As much as the Saints want – and need – to win, finding a way to back them against the Bucs on the road is difficult. This game could effectively be the end of the season for New Orleans, but they’re going to go out with a bang. That means the roughly 40-point over/under should be cleared with ease.

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