The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the first game they played in the Louisiana Superdome. If they can do the same in their first playoffs never played on this site, they will participate in the 2020 NFC Championship game.
After opening their 2020 playoff series with a road victory over the Washington soccer team in the Wild Card round on Saturday night, the Buccaneers are now heading their ship to New Orleans, where they will face the Saints, rivals of the south of the NFC, during the divisional round of the playoffs. That destination was determined Sunday afternoon when New Orleans beat the Chicago Bears, 21-9.
Both teams will play next Sunday, Jan. 17, at 6:40 p.m. ET on FOX.
The Saints and Buccaneers, who finished first and second in the South with records of 12-4 and 11-5, respectively, will meet for the third time this season. The Saints won both contests, including a 34-23 decision in the Superdome in Week One. New Orleans also won at Raymond James Stadium in Week 9 by a 38-3 score on Sunday Night Football.
That Buccaneers’ first win in New Orleans doubled as the franchise’s first-ever win, at the end of the expansion team’s second season on December 11, 1977. Another win next weekend didn’t Obviously wouldn’t be the franchise’s first playoff win, but it would propel them to their first NFC championship game since 2002. The Buccaneers and Saints will meet for the first time in the playoffs.
The other NFC divisional round game will pit the Los Angeles Rams against the Green Bay Packers. The Rams, a Wild Card team and sixth overall, beat their own division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, by a score of 30-20 on Saturday afternoon. The Packers received the only first round of the conference as the overall seed.
The Saints gave the Buccaneers two of their five losses this season, which turned out to be the difference in the division standings, as New Orleans won the NFC South for the fourth straight year. These two competitions were the only ones Tampa Bay lost by more than three points all season. Their other three losses – against Chicago, the Rams and Kansas City – were decided by a total three points.
The Buccaneers will go 7-2 in the Superdome next weekend, including their win in Washington. The Saints are also 7-2 at home this season, including their win over the Bears.
Tampa Bay has won six of its eight games since the Week Nine loss to New Orleans, including all four on the road. During that span, the Buccaneers have averaged 34.1 points per game. In the two losses to the Saints, the Bucs have allowed six of the 21 sacks Brady has suffered all season and also selected the Bucs quarterback five times. Brady threw just seven interceptions in Tampa Bay’s other 15 games, including the Wild Card win in Washington. New Orleans’ fourth defense was led by a fierce pass rush that placed sixth in the league in passing sacks.
The divisional game in New Orleans is most notable for its pairing of Hall of Fame-linked quarterbacks Brady and Drew Brees. Brady and Brees are first and second in NFL history, respectively, for touchdowns (Brady 581, Brees 571). Brady’s advantage in the playoffs is much bigger, as he holds the all-time lead with 75 touchdown passes while Brees is sixth with 34. And, of course, Brady is chasing his seventh Super Bowl title while Brees tries to add a second.
The Saints won the regular season series against the Buccaneers, and with it the NFC South crown. However, Tampa Bay now gets a third crack on its divisional rival, with a lot more at stake. An eighth road win in 2020 would bring the Buccaneers one step closer to their return home for Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.