By now, you know what’s at stake - the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win and they clinch the NFC South for the third straight season for the first time in franchise history and make the playoffs for the fourth straight year since 1999-2002. The New Orleans Saints win and their playoff hopes stay alive with a chance to win the division next week - with a little help.
The Bucs are going to have to orchestrate a win without Carlton Davis and Shaq Barrett - and while the loss of Davis isn’t ideal, it isn’t as catastrophic as it may have been in years past thanks to the stellar play of Zyon McCollum this season. The same could actually be said of Barrett since defensive rookie of the year candidate YaYa Diaby will get the bulk of the snaps to help in his quest to add to his sack and tackle for loss totals. Diaby leads all rookies in sacks and is second in tackles for loss - trailing his teammate Calijah Kancey by one.
The Bucs did elevate cornerback Derek Pitts and tight end David Wells from the practice squad this week to account for the losses of Davis and tight end Ko Kieft.
For the Saints, they will have to fend off the Bucs’ pass rush without Ryan Ramczyk who was placed on injured reserve Saturday - and they are still without wide receiver Michael Thomas and cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Plenty of folks tune in to see the next chapter of Lattimore versus Mike Evans, but this year has been a forgettable entry in that saga.
Here are the inactive players for the week 17 matchup between the Bucs and Saints;
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
OLB - Shaquil Barrett
CB - Carlton Davis
TE - Ko Kieft
LB - J.J. Russell
DT - Deadrin Senat
OL - Brandon Walton
QB - John Wolford (emergency third quarterback)
New Orleans Saints:
OT - Ryan Ramczyk
S - Lonnie Johnson
DB - Cameron Dantzler
RB - Kendre Miller
DE - Isaiah Foskey
LB - Monty Rice
The Bucs and Saints kickoff in Raymond James Stadium on New Year’s Eve at 1:00 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on FOX with Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi on the call.