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Could Bucs Loss at New Orleans Hamper Playoffs Chances?

On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were trounced 36-27 by the New Orleans Saints, which meant they could have lowered their playoff chances, albeit by a small percentage. It was the Bucs sixth straight loss to the Saints in a regular-season game.

Penalties and turnovers were the Bucs major undoing, but Tom Brady's fourth-quarter interception clinched the deal for the Bucs, who now trail the Saints by a half-game in the division.

The Saints won the toss and deferred to the Buccaneers, meaning the Tampa Bay would start on the offense.

Due to a three-and-out, the Bucs left the field almost as quickly as they had entered. The three-and-out came from a one-yard loss on the first down and a lost pass on a third-down screen.

On 3rd and 9, the Bucs defense appeared to be set to return the favor, but Jameis Winston sprinted out of the pocket for a 20-yard gain. On the subsequent 3rd and 6, the Bucs defense fared considerably better, stopping Alvin Kamara one yard short of the first down. Instead of punting the ball, Sean Payton opted to go for it, and the Buccaneers defense came up with a massive stop, stifling Kamara at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

Tom Brady led his side in retaking the field for their second drive, which began at the New Orleans 44. The offense suddenly faced a third down, but Chris Godwin saved the day with a 25-yard catch-and-run that pushed the ball into the red zone and to the Saints' 15-yard line. The offense was in danger when a holding penalty on Donovan Smith resulted in a 1st and 20, but Leonard Fournette's 13-yard run put the Bucs back in control. Two plays later, the Bucs faced another third down, but Godwin came through again, this time with a 12-yard touchdown for the game's opening score. With 8:28 left in the first quarter, Ryan Succop's PAT sailed through the uprights, giving the Bucs a 7-0 lead.

New Orleans swiftly drove into the Bucs territory with 10- and 18-yard completions to Kamara and Mark Ingram. A few plays later, Winston converted another third down with his legs and then drove the offense into the red zone with another huge run. Winston made a stunning play, just avoiding a slight gain and correcting to scramble for 13 yards down to the Tampa Bay 20.

The Bucs went for broke on third-and-seven, but Winston remained tall and fired a beautiful pass to Tre'Quan Smith for a 16-yard score. With 2:39 left in the first quarter, Brian Robinson's PAT was successful, tying the score at 7-7.

The game was getting livelier and getting attention as one of the most popular games as you can see here. The Bucs needed five plays to go over the 50-yard line and into Saints territory. On the first play in Saints territory, Brady overthrew a wide-open Mike Evans, resulting in a 3rd and 6 from the New Orleans 40 that the Bucs failed to convert. The ball was punted by Bradley Pinion, who pinned the Saints at their own 8, where their next drive took off.

The Buccaneers' development has been hampered by injuries to several of their cornerbacks thus far, but head coach Bruce Arians will be hoping that the situation improves in the coming weeks.

Even though they still have the NFL's ninth-best defensive team, Arians knows it won't be enough when the playoffs begin.

Other teams will feel they can expose the Eagles' backline if they score 15 unanswered points against the Buccaneers.

Brady's ability to play at a high level for an extended period is also an issue, but he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.

Despite these minor concerns, the Buccaneers are on course to qualify for the playoffs. We take a look at what's coming up in the next few weeks.

Washington (A) - November 14

Last season, Washington finished first in the NFC East with a 7-9 record. A repeat victory for the Dallas Cowboys, who are now 5-1, is quite unlikely.

Despite losing nine games last season, Washington's defense was a bright spot, ranking second overall and fourth in points allowed.

Washington has surrendered 186 points in six games this season, an average of 31 per game, the worst in the NFL.

They led the Kansas City Chiefs 13-10 at halftime, but they gave up 21 points and 499 yards after the break, highlighting their defensive flaws.

Brady loves playing against Washington, and is expected to have a field day. In this one, a resounding victory should be in the cards.

New York Giants (H) - November 22

The Giants are currently in disarray, and a trip to face the defending Super Bowl champions is probably the last thing they need right now.

They were booed off the field after a 38-11 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams, a result that brought their average points allowed per game to 29.5 after six games.

Their only win of the season came in overtime, a 27-21 victory in New Orleans, but it's hard to see them repeating the feat against the Buccaneers.

Last November, the Buccaneers beat the Giants 25-23 in New York, though the margin of victory should have been greater.

With home advantage and a shot at the playoffs, the Buccaneers are a sure bet to win this game.

Indianapolis Colts (A) - November 28

The Buccaneers will be odds-on favorites to beat the Colts, but their chances will largely depend on which version of quarterback Carson Wentz shows up.

The Colts took a big risk when they signed Wentz, with many pundits predicting that he would be a flop in the NFL.

Those opinions appeared to be justified as Wentz struggled early in the season, but he has regained his form.

He played well in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens before putting on a dominant show in the Colts' rout of the Houston Texans.

Wentz has struggled with consistency in the past, but with a win in Indianapolis, the Buccaneers should move closer to the playoffs.


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