With a playoff berth already secured, the New Orleans Saints aim for the NFC South title when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Saints need just a victory to claim the crown but also would finish atop the division with either a loss by Carolina or a tie by both clubs.
New Orleans put itself in position to win the division by bouncing back from a loss at Atlanta in Week 14 with victories over the New York Jets and Falcons. The title would be the first since 2011 for the Saints, who went 7-9 in four of their last five seasons - including each of the last three. Tampa Bay hopes to avoid ending the campaign with a six-game losing streak, as it has not been victorious since recording a 30-20 win at Miami on Nov. 19. Each of the Buccaneers’ last four setbacks has been by fewer than seven points, including last week’s 22-19 defeat at Carolina.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Saints -6.5. O/U: 50.5
ABOUT THE SAINTS (11-4): Drew Brees eclipsed 70,000 career passing yards last week, joining Peyton Manning and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to accomplish the feat. With his 239 yards against Atlanta, he raised his season total to 4,089 - extending his league record to 12 consecutive campaigns of 4,000 or more. Michael Thomas (98) is one of two players to have at least 90 receptions in each of his first two seasons in the NFL and needs five catches to surpass Jarvis Landry (194 from 2014-15) for most in his first two campaigns.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (4-11): Mike Evans leads the team with 946 receiving yards and can join Randy Moss and A.J. Green as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 in each of their first four seasons. Jameis Winston lost three fumbles in last week’s setback and has gone eight consecutive starts without a victory. Rookie Chris Godwin suffered an ankle injury against Carolina and has not practiced this week while fellow wide receiver DeSean Jackson hopes to return from a similar ailment that kept him out of action versus the Panthers.
1. Brees leads the NFL with a 71.9 completion percentage and can eclipse Sam Bradford’s 71.6 mark last season for the best in league history.
2. Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy leads all NFL defensive tackles with 39.5 sacks since 2013.
3. New Orleans RB Alvin Kamara is tied for first among NFL rookies with 75 receptions.
PREDICTION: Saints 34, Buccaneers 17