Bucs, Saints collide with first place on line in NFC South


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees received’t be the one compelling storyline when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints conflict with first place on the road within the NFC South.

The NFL profession passing leaders meet for the seventh time Sunday evening, with Brady (561) and Brees (560) rating first and second on the landing passes listing after exchanging the lead thrice prior to now two weeks.

The Bucs (6-2) have received three straight, six of seven since dropping to Brees in Week 1.

The three-time defending division champion Saints (5-2) have received 4 in a row to remain on the heels of Brady, Tampa Bay’s ever-expanding assortment of offensive playmakers and a protection that has emerged as the most effective within the league.

Brees, 41, referred to as the TD move race “fairly cool” whereas stressing what’s extra essential is successful and regaining the division lead.

“Talking for myself, I’m simply laser targeted on the job that’s proper in entrance of me, and the chance that we’ve this week,” the Saints quarterback mentioned.

Brady, 43, additionally had little to say in regards to the uniqueness of him and Brees chasing historical past on the identical time.

Brees took excessive spot with two TD passes in an additional time win over Chicago final Sunday. Brady reclaimed the lead with a pair of scoring passes in opposition to the New York Giants on Monday evening.

“We’ve each been round for fairly some time. He’s a terrific quarterback,” mentioned Brady, second in profession yards passing behind Brees with 76,760.

“I’ve plenty of respect for him as a participant, as an individual, and we’re each nearer to the top than we’re to the start,” Brady added. “I feel we each nonetheless get pleasure from being on the market on the sphere with our teammates taking part in and competing, and it’s going to be a really aggressive recreation Sunday evening.”

The primetime matchup can even characteristic Antonio Brown’s debut with the Bucs.

The four-time All Professional receiver signed with Tampa Bay final week and is coming off an eight-game suspension for a number of violations of the NFL’s private conduct coverage.

He’s the most recent big-name addition the Bucs have made on offense since signing Brady in free company, becoming a member of Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette.

“I’m simply excited to place my hand within the pile. There are such a lot of nice guys right here,” Brown mentioned.

“I’m simply tremendous grateful for this chance and … excited to slot in and do what’s finest for us to win,” Brown added. “No matter that entails.”


Brady is off to a terrific begin, throwing for two,198 yards, 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He has tossed 17 TD passes vs. one interception over the previous six video games.

Brees is coming off a 280-yard, two-touchdown, zero-interceptions recreation in opposition to Chicago. In a single fewer recreation than Brady, he has thrown for 1,898 yards, 13 TDs and three interceptions.

Bucs coach Bruce Arians was requested what his protection has to do disrupt Brees on Sunday evening.

“Knock him down a number of occasions. That at all times helps,” Arians mentioned. “None of them – particularly the older guys – like getting knocked down. We’ve obtained to stress him, get him off his spot and have actually good, tight protection.”


Saints coach Sean Payton is effectively conscious of how tough Brown could be on a protection. When the Saints edged out the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-28 within the Superdome in 2018, Brown was arguably the perfect participant on the sphere. The Saints couldn’t stick with him, and he completed with 14 catches for 185 yards and two TDs.

Payton mentioned one of many massive challenges Brown presents is his explosiveness. So, limiting his catches a lot of the recreation might be undone by “one massive play on the mistaken time.”

Payton added that “it doesn’t require 11 catches” for Brown to have a major impact on a recreation.


Whereas each groups have viable working video games, each defenses are stout in opposition to the run. The Buccaneers rank first within the NFL in dashing protection, permitting 70.4 yards per recreation. The Saints rank third, permitting 90.6 yards per recreation.

“There’s 32 groups that can say, ‘We wish to cease the run,’ proper? That’s only a truth, everybody goes to say that,” Payton mentioned. “And but, they’ve been in a position to again that up yr after yr.”

In the meantime, the Saints might be short-handed within the inside of their line of defense. Beginning defensive sort out Shedone Rankins, a 2015 first-round draft alternative, damage his knee final Sunday in Chicago. It’s not but clear when he’ll be able to return.

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