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 Tampa Bay will face New Orleans today

Updated January 17, 2021 at 11:02 AM CT

DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Tampa Bay at New Orleans

When: 6:40 PM ET, Sunday, January 17, 2021

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

TV: FOX/FOX Deportes: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (field reporter), Tom Rinaldi (field reporter)

NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Ryan Radtke, Tony Boselli SIRIUS: 82 (TB), 83 (NO) | XM: 226 (TB), 225 (NO), 88 (National)

Odds:

TB 42%, NO 58%

Over/Under: 53

Favorite: Saints (-3)

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (12-5) AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-4)


      The New Orleans Saints could be down two offensive contributors for today’s divisional-round game, as quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Latavius Murray are unlikely to play versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per NFLMedia.

Hill is battling a knee injury, while Murray hurt his quad during last week’s win over the Chicago Bears.

Both players didn’t practice all week and are listed as questionable.

Hill is a key member of head coach Sean Payton’s offense as a jack of all trades. While also ready as Drew Brees’ backup, the 30-year-old rushed four times for 15 yards and caught two passes against Chicago.

Murray averaged 4.5 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns this season as New Orleans’ No. 2 running back. Being without him will likely mean more touches for Alvin Kamara, with Ty Montgomery receiving a few snaps behind him.

The Saints are looking to defeat Tampa Bay for the third time this season after winning the NFC South matchup in Week 1 and Week 9.

Tom Brady bacame the oldest player (43 years, 159 days old) to throw a TD pass in a playoff game in last Saturday’s win over the WFT.

Brady signed with the Buccaneers in March. His arrival in the NFC South means he matches up with Saints quarterback Drew Brees on multiple occasions.

The two quarterbacks have been in the league for a long time, but their head-to-head matchups were limited because they were in different conferences, but they played twice in the regular season and this weekend’s results have them set for a third meeting in New Orleans on Sunday night in the divisional playoff game.

It’s their first postseason matchup and Brees, who turns 42 this week, said that it feels like things have been building to this since Brady came to Tampa.

“Yeah, don’t take it for granted,” Brees said in his postgame press conference. “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity. And listen, the minute that he signed with the Bucs and came in the division, you felt like that was going to be a team to contend with, that was going to be a team that had playoff aspirations and beyond, just like us. So, I guess it was inevitable.”

The Saints won their two regular season meetings with the Buccaneers, but Tampa hasn’t lost since their Week 13 bye. The Saints counter that with being about as healthy as they’ve been all season and the stage is set for a memorable meeting of NFL icons.

“When the playoffs come and you’re playing a division opponent like this,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, “it’s a whole new season. It’s entirely different.”

Much of the attention leading up to the game will be on Brees and Brady, the two most productive passers in NFL history. This will be the last time they face each other, if Brees retires after this season.

Brady is 43 years old and Brees turns 42 on Friday.

Brees’ team has won five of the eight career match-ups, and this will be the first time the two have met in the playoffs.

“I envisioned this game happening (when Brady signed with the Bucs last offseason),” Brees said. “Tom and I have a friendship and mutual respect. We were texting back and forth Monday, chuckling at this whole scenario.”

The Saints defense was perhaps the most important factor in winning the first two games. They intercepted Brady twice in the first meeting, including one that Janoris Jenkins returned for a touchdown, and they intercepted him three times in the second meeting.

Brees had six touchdowns and no interceptions in the first two meetings.

For the season, Brady has passed for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has just seven interceptions against teams other than New Orleans.

“I think we’ve just been going through growing pains throughout the season,” Tampa Bay wide receiver Chris Godwin said, “which is what happens when you have a new quarterback. It takes some time to build that chemistry and I think over the last couple of weeks we’ve done better at that.”

Since the second loss to the Saints, the Bucs have averaged 34 points per game.

“We’re doing different things that we were doing back then, especially in the opener,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. “It’s just a matter of doing what you do and doing it better than they do (what they do).”

Brady threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-23 wild-card win last week at Washington. That was the Bucs’ first playoff win since they won the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.

“A lot of things change in a season,” Buc’s HC Bruce Arians said. “It comes down to one-on-one battles of guys who know each other. Who’s going to make the game-changing plays in this game?”

“When we play each other (there) is a lot of emotion, a lot of physicality,” Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans said. “As players we love it. We love this rivalry. I know the fans love it. I would say it is our biggest rivalry.”



    BUCCANEERS NOTES

• QB TOM BRADY is postseason all-time leader in starts (42), completions (1,047), pass yards (11,769), pass TDs (75) & Super Bowl titles (6). Ranked tied-2nd in pass TDs (franchise-record 40) & 3rd in pass yards (4,633) in 2020 & became 5th QB in NFL history with 2+ seasons (2) of 40+ TD passes. Had postseason single-game franchise-record 381 pass yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 104.3 rating in NFC-WC at Was.

• RB RONALD JONES set career-highs in scrimmage yards (1,143), rush yards (978) & rush TDs (7) in 2020. RB LEONARD FOURNETTE has 418 scrimmage yards (104.5 per game) & 5 rush TDs in 4 career playoff games. Had 132 scrimmage yards (93 rush, 39 rec.) & rush TD in NFC-WC at Was.

• WR MIKE EVANS ranked 4th in NFL in rec. TDs (13) this season. Had 1,006 rec. yards in 2020 & is 1st player in NFL history with 1,000+ rec. yards in each of his 1st 7 seasons. Had 6 catches for postseason single-game franchise-record 119 rec. yards in NFC-WC at Was. WR CHRIS GODWIN has rec. TD in 5 of his past 6 on road, incl. playoffs. Has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 at NO. WR ANTONIO BROWN has 53 receptions for 886 yards (80.5 per game) & 5 rec. TDs in 11 career playoff games. TE ROB GRONKOWSKI has 12 career postseason rec. TDs, tied-2nd most in NFL history.

• LB LAVONTE DAVID had 9 tackles & sack in postseason debut last week. Has 24 FFs since 2014, tied 2nd-most in NFL. LB DEVIN WHITE was 1st player since 2000 with 140+ tackles (140) & 9+ sacks (9). Aims for his 4th in row vs. NO with 10+ tackles. LB JASON PIERRE-PAUL has 5 TFL & 5 PD in 5 career postseason games. DT NDAMUKONG SUH had 1.5 sacks in his last playoff game vs. NO (1/20/19 - NFC-C w/ LAR).


SAINTS NOTES

• QB DREW BREES has 5,232 pass yards (307.8 per game) & 36 TDs vs. 12 INTs for 100 rating in 17 career postseason starts. Had 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 107.3 rating in NFC-WC vs. Chi. Had 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 135.2 rating in Week 9 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. TB with 2+ TDs & 0 INTs.

• RB ALVIN KAMARA led NFL with 21 TDs (16 rush, 5 rec.) & ranked 3rd in scrimmage yards (1,688). Led all RBs with career-high 83 receptions. Had 116 scrimmage yards (99 rush, 17 rec.) & rush TD in NFC-WC vs. Chi. Has 850 scrimmage yards (106.3 per game) & 9 TDs (6 rush, 3 rec.) in 8 career games vs. TB. RB LATAVIUS MURRAY had rec. TD in NFC-WC vs. Chi. Is 1 of 2 RBs (TODD GURLEY) with 5+ TDs in each of past 6 seasons.

• WR MICHAEL THOMAS has 43 receptions for 566 yards (94.3 per game) & 4 rec. TDs in 6 career postseason games. Has 74 catches for 899 yards (99.9 per game) & 4 rec. TDs in 9 career games vs. TB. WR EMMANUEL SANDERS is 1 of 3 WRs (T.Y. HILTON & JULIO JONES) with 500+ rec. yards in each of past 9 seasons. Aims for his 4th in row vs. TB with TD catch. WR DEONTE HARRIS had career-highs in catches (7) & rec. yards (83) in NFC-WC vs. Chi. TE JARED COOK has 22 rec. TDs since 2018, 2nd-most among TEs.

• DE CAMERON JORDAN is only player with 7+ sacks in each of past 9 seasons. Has 5.5 sacks, 8 TFL & 4 PD in 10 career postseason games. Has TFL in 6 of his past 7 at home vs. TB. DE TREY HENDRICKSON tied-2nd in NFL with career-high 13.5 sacks. LB DEMARIO DAVIS has 10 PD & 6 TFL in 8 career games vs. TB. Had sack in last home meeting. Was 1 of 5 LBs with 100+ tackles (119) & 10+ TFL (10) in 2020. CB MARSHON LATTIMORE aims for his 8th in row with PD, incl. playoffs.

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Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News

 Follow @AASNSports on Twitter, or me, @RanDeBord

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