Two teams squaring off on Monday Night Football, in the hunt for the NFC South crown. Sounds exciting, right? Exactly what a Monday night game in December should be, right? Until you realize that the Buccaneers and Saints are both below .500, the Saints refuse to utilize the better of their two quarterbacks, and the winner of this division will likely have a losing record when the season is over.
After a baffling 23-17 overtime loss in Cleveland, the Buccaneers are in a tailspin. On the other side is the team that has had their number for the better part of a decade and they’re coming off their first shutout loss in over 300 games. This is not the marquee matchup we all thought it would be when the schedule dropped in April.
The Saints lead the all-time series 39-23 and haven’t lost a game in Tampa since 2017. In the Tom Brady era, the Bucs have lost to the Saints in Ray Jay by scores of 9-0 and 38-3. That’s right - Tom Brady and the Bucs have yet to score a touchdown against the Saints at home since his arrival in 2020. The 2022 iteration of the offense isn’t going to give fans the confidence that changes this time around.
Of course, the big story coming out of the matchup earlier this season that the Bucs won 20-10 is the ejections of Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore for the fight that erupted in the second half. That seemed to spark the Bucs’ defense who would go on to take the ball away five times and get in the end zone courtesy of a Mike Edwards pick-six.
On the flip side, it will be Andy Dalton under center this time around rather than Jameis Winston. There’s no Michael Thomas this time around while Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, and Juwan Johnson have been the constants on the offensive side of the ball. And while the Bucs have struggled against the Saints at home, Dalton has the longest prime time road losing streak since the merger - so something has to give.
The Bucs are inexplicably 27th in the NFL in scoring offense, averaging 18.2 points per game while the Saints’ defense is giving up 23.3 points per game - 20th in the NFL. The Bucs defense is still holding strong, allowing 18.5 points per game which is 7th best in the league, while the Saints are 21st in the league scoring 20.8 points per game.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Buccaneers are four point home favorites with an over/under of 40.5. The Bucs have failed to cover in eight of their last nine while also losing eight of their last nine coming off of an overtime game.
The Bucs and Saints kickoff at 8:15 p.m. ET in Raymond James Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN with Joe Buck and Trot Aikman on the call.