Monday Night Football returns to central Florida as the New Orleans Saints travel to Tampa to face the Buccaneers tonight. Both teams are underperforming this season and looking to recover from losses in their last game.
Saints Hope To Avoid Another Losing Streak
The Saints hit their lowest point of the season last week against the San Francisco 49ers, suffering their first shutout of the season, and since 2001, in their 13-0 loss on the road. New Orleans is tied with the Carolina Panthers for last place in the NFC South Division with a 4-8 record but is still just 1.5 games behind the Bucs in the standings in one of the weakest divisions in football.
New Orleans continues to battle injuries this season and had eight players miss the last practice with injuries. Their offense is ranked 20th in the league in scoring, but they rank in the top half of the league in passing at #11.
The biggest pieces that could be missing tonight are TE Juwan Johnson, and cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore, and Bradley Robey. Lattimore is questionable with an abdominal injury and Robey is trying to make his return from concussion protocol.
The Saints need to protect the football tonight, as they currently rank last in the league in turnover differential. Alvin Kamara lost two fumbles last week against the Niners, which helped their opponents end the NFL’s longest active scoring streak of 332 games.
The last time the Saints had been shut out was in the final game of the 2001 season, also against the 49ers. They were also held to just 267 yards of offense in last week’s loss.
Bucs Look To Keep Top Division Spot
The Buccaneers entered Week 13 in first place in the NFC South, but their 5-6 record is enough to keep them just ahead of the Atlanta Falcons in the standings. Every team has a negative point differential, with the Carolina Panthers holding the best record of 3-1 against division opponents.
A win tonight is crucial if Tampa hopes to remain in contention for a postseason berth. They must hold on to first place, as finishing any lower could eliminate them from the playoff race in the NFC.
Tampa won the first meeting against the Saints in Week 2 with a 20-10 victory but has just a 3-6 record since. Last week, the Bucs had their two-game winning streak ended by the Cleveland Browns on the road in overtime, 23-17.
They had their chances to get on the board in the extra period but couldn’t put a consistent drive together despite having several possessions. Tampa’s offense is ranked 28th in the league this season with 18.5 points per game.
The Bucs are sixth in the NFL with 266.1 passing yards per game, and Tom Brady is sixth with 3,051 passing yards and first in the league with just two interceptions. The major problem with the Buccaneers’ offense is their rushing game.
They are the only team in the league with less than 1,000 yards on the ground with 803, and they rank last in the league with 73 yards per game. They have also lost four of the last five games against the Saints since Brady joined the team.
Tampa wins at home to keep their division lead.