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The 6-7 New Orleans Saints are huge underdogs in this one despite having whooped the Jets last week by a score of 30-9, and dual-threat RB Alvin Kamara keeps reminding the league that he can consistently produce and having QB Taysom Hill under center helps since those two can both kill a defense both on the ground and through the air, a tough attack to game plan against.
If the 4-game winning streak that QB Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers are enjoying extends for another victory in Week 15, HC Bruce Arian’s team will clinch the NFC South, so don’t expect them to phone it in here, especially given how close they are to earning the top NFC playoff seed, still just a tiebreaker away from the Packers for that coveted spot.
These two NFC South rivals have played each other 60 previous times (including 1 postseason game), with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning 22 of those games and the New Orleans Saints winning 38 of the games.
Once injured Saints’ starting quarterback Jameis Winston was done for the season, head coach Sean Payton had a decision to make, whether to start the veteran multi-tooled Taysom Hill or give backup Trevor Siemian the chance to take over under center.
In the four games Siemian got to start he went winless but threw 9 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions, numbers not impressive enough to keep the job, so now it is Hill’s turn to lead the team, a job he has tried on and off this season to mixed results, as well.
As QB this year, Hill has completed 41 passes for 495 yards and 2 TDs with 5 interceptions, and as a rusher, he has carried the ball 42 times for 278 yards and 5 TDs, plus as a receiver, he has 4 catches for 52 yards, production that makes him an invaluable piece of this offense.
When a team is favored by this many points at home, the temptation is to already chalk up the win and move on mentally to the next week’s game, but in the NFL with all its parity, that type of attitude often leads to a loss, and they call that a trap game.
Of course, Tampa Bay has the GOAT playing QB now, Tom Brady a crafty veteran who has faced every NFL scenario imaginable, as has his HC Bruce Arians, so the two ought to be able to convince the rest of the roster to take this potential blowout as seriously as the others.
The Buccaneers have their eyes set on the NFC’s first overall playoff seed, but right now the Green Bay Packers have those honors, so a win here is critical for their postseason future, the first-week bye and home-field advantage both first-seed benefits worth fighting for.
One of the most fun players to watch in the NFL is a dual thread running back Alvin Kamara, now in his fifth pro season with the New Orleans Saints and well on his way to another 1,000+ yards from scrimmage year, though injuries have kept his game time-limited.
Kamara is a 5’ 10” 215-pound wrecking ball who can move fast out of the backfield after patiently waiting for a hole to open, so far this season with 173 carries for 650 yards and 4 TDs plus 36 receptions for 335 yards and 4 TDs, a huge part of this offense when he is healthy.
Watch for Saints OC Pete Carmichael to game plan around Kamara in this one against a Buccaneers defense ranked 14th overall, though they are far more effective against the run (ranked 3rd) than they are against the pass (ranked 24th).
Good luck to the Saints secondary when they try to cover Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans, the 6’ 5” 231-pound player big enough to make it tough to tackle and fast enough to get open against far shorter and lighter cornerbacks and safeties.
Evans has been in the NFL since the 2014 season, all with the Buccaneers, and he has almost 600 career receptions for over 9,150 total yards and 72 scores, plus he can block at the line when called upon to help with his team’s rushing attack.
This season, Evans has caught 63 passes for 885 yards and 11 touchdowns, he and QB Tom Brady now forming a connection that rivals Brady-to-Gronk, so watch for Evans to play a big role in this potential divisional clincher as his Bucs try to get back to the show.
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|Saints vs Buccaneers Information|
|What||New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Where||Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida|
|When||Sunday, December 19, 2021; 8:20 PM ET|
|How to watch||NBC|
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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