current subscribers Register me
not a subscriber? See my options

current subscribers Register me
not a subscriber? See my options

already a subscriber? Register me
Subscribe now See my options
National Football League
Preview
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, December 29, 2013
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

The New Orleans Saints still have a shot at winning a division title and securing a first-round bye, but their main goal will be clinching a postseason berth when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Saints will be in the playoffs with a victory and have the luxury of leaning on a decided best home-field advantage - they are 7-0 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and five of the victories have been by at least 18 points. New Orleans has won four straight against Tampa Bay.

The Saints need a win and a loss by Carolina in Atlanta to capture the NFC South title, but they can be eliminated from postseason contention if they lose and Arizona beats San Francisco. Like New Orleans, the Buccaneers have dropped two straight and three of their past four and and face a daunting task of trying to prevail on the road, where they are 1-6. "We feel it is a big advantage for us, just like it is for a team when we play on the road," Saints coach Sean Payton said of playing at home.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox. LINE: Saints -13. O/U: 47.

ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (4-11-1): Tampa Bay won three in a row after opening the season with eight consecutive defeats, but the offense has slowed markedly over the past four games, averaging 11 points in the three defeats. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has struggled to move the offense in the the four-game stretch, throwing for four touchdowns and four interceptions, failing to surpass 180 yards and absorbing 17 sacks, including seven in last week's 23-13 loss at St. Louis. Vincent Jackson has established a career high with 74 receptions, but running back Bobby Rainey has been limited to 64 yards in the last two games and is averaging 2.1 yards in his last 52 carries.

ABOUT THE SAINTS (10-5): A typically potent potent offense has hit a few bumps in the road, averaging 12 points in its three defeats in December - all away from home. Drew Brees has thrown two scoring passes and four interceptions in back-to-back losses at St. Louis and Carolina, but he has been spectacular under the dome in New Orleans with 24 touchdowns - including four games with at least four scoring passes - against only three picks while surpassing 300 yards in each of the seven home wins. Wideout Marques Colston has come alive with 22 receptions over the past three games to complement Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, who leads the league with 15 scoring passes.

EXTRA POINTS

1. New Orleans won at Tampa Bay 16-14 on a field goal as time expired in Week 2.

2. Brees needs 219 yards to reach 5,000 for the fourth time in his career.

3. Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy has seven sacks in his last seven games and needs one more to reach double figures for the first time.

PREDICTION: Saints 34, Buccaneers 17
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
Tampa Bay 4-11 L2 18.1 23.1 3-5 1-6 3-6 1-5 0-1 1-4 2-9
New Orleans 10-5 L2 24.8 19.1 7-0 3-5 2-1 8-4 0-0 4-1 8-3
Last Meeting
Tampa Bay New Orleans
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
9/15/13 NO 16 TB 14 273 160 113 371 75 296
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Tampa Bay J. Freeman 40.9 125 1 1
New Orleans D. Brees 56.5 322 1 2
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Tampa Bay D. Martin 29 144 5.0 0
New Orleans P. Thomas 5 29 5.8 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Tampa Bay V. Jackson 5 77 15.4 0
New Orleans J. Graham 10 179 17.9 1
Touchdowns Player TD
Tampa Bay M. Foster 1
New Orleans J. Graham 1
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Tampa Bay M. Glennon 60.0 2389 17 8
New Orleans D. Brees 68.2 4781 35 12
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Tampa Bay B. Rainey 126 497 3.9 5
New Orleans P. Thomas 140 529 3.8 1
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Tampa Bay V. Jackson 74 1189 16.1 7
New Orleans J. Graham 81 1144 14.1 15
Touchdowns Player TD
Tampa Bay V. Jackson 7
New Orleans J. Graham 15