The New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to square off for the third time this season, but this time the stakes will be raised. The Saints, who have already beaten the Buccaneers twice this season, will look to do it yet again in hopes of competing for their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
The Saints dominated the Chicago Bears in every aspect of the game on Sunday, and their defense has carried them a lot throughout what has been a very trying season as numerous players have been injured, hit the COVID list, or have battled suspension.
On the other hand, the Buccaneers squeaked out a win against the Washington Football Team, who finished their regular season with a 7-9 record. The Football team, who was lead by Taylor Heinicke, nearly knocked off the 11-5 Buccaneers, who have struggled throughout the season despite their win-loss record.
Both teams have their strengths and both teams have their weaknesses, but both teams will need to bring their A-game if they hope to face off against the winner of the Packers and Rams game.
Here’s a look at four factors that could decide the Saints vs Bucs game on Sunday.
Number One: Home Field Advantage
Home field advantage at any point, but especially during the playoffs is extremely important. Sean Payton is significantly better coaching at home rather than on the road, so securing home field advantage for as many rounds as they could was significant.
The Saints having home field advantage will be very beneficial on Sunday when they play host to Tampa Bay for the third time this season. Tom Brady has struggled traveling to opposing stadiums all year and Sunday will hopefully prove no different.
New Orleans having home field advantage will be crucial in deciding the outcome of this game and Saints fans need to bring it on Sunday to help make it as difficult as possible for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
Number Two: Tom Brady Ball Control
Tom Brady has struggled heavily against the Saints in 2020 and in fact through two games has thrown five interceptions. If Brady can hold onto the ball and make the plays we’re used to him making, the Buccaneers could have a different result on Sunday.
Brady has always struggled with turnovers in battles with Drew Brees, which makes Saints fans very eager for Sunday’s game. However, the Saints have already beaten Brady twice and he’s sure to make some corrections in his play style to better accommodate his team.
There is no question that Brady has all the weapons he could dream of to make this Super Bowl run work, it’s just a matter of ball control for Brady at this point. If Brady can avoid turnovers and keep his team in position to win, the Bucs could upset New Orleans on Sunday.
Number Three: Defensive Play
As cliché as it sounds, defense wins championships and both teams will need their defenses to step up if they plan on moving on to the next round. The good news for both teams, it that they both have an outstanding defense.
It’s crazy to think that two offenses who are led by future Hall of Fame quarterbacks and have a combined 12 Pro Bowlers between the two offenses won’t be the spotlight, but rather the defense will, but that’s just how important a good defense is.
The Buccaneers’ defense is led by Devin White, Shaquil Barrett, and Antoine Winfield Jr., while the Saints are lead by Demario Davis, Marshon Lattimore, and Cameron Jordan in what is set to be a great matchup. The winner of this game will likely be whoever plays the best on defense.
Number Four: History
The history between Tom Brady and Drew Brees will play a huge role as Brady will look to knock off Brees in what is likely Brees’ final Super Bowl run. Brees leads the two in their NFL head to head matchups, but Brady leads in Super Bowl appearances.
The matchup between Brees and Brady on Sunday will be the first ever matchup between two quarterbacks over the age of 40. It will also be the first time the number one and number two quarterbacks in terms of passing touchdowns will face off head to head in a playoff game. Brees leads his NFL matchups against Tom Brady five to two, but Brady will look to bounce back on Sunday.
Brees has strongly outperformed Brady in his career as his 248.8 passing yards per game, 21 passing touchdowns, two interceptions, and 108.6 quarterback rating outweigh Brady’s 278.5 passing yards per game, 11 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and 82.5 quarterback rating. It will be a historic game between the two quarterbacks, but only one can come out on top.