The New Orleans Saints required overtime to slip by the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly survived a struggle against the New York Giants on Monday night.
Do you think these two quality National Football League teams had something else on their minds other than their Week Eight opponents?
Maybe each other.
Drew Brees leads his Saints into Florida for a primetime Sunday night affair with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. While these two squads both play out of the NFC South Division, they would not have been considered a marquee worthy NFL rivalry until now. You know why, because the Buccaneers are now guided by Tom Brady, who is in a lifetime statistical battle with Brees in nearly every passing category.
Last Sunday, for example, Brees threw two touchdown passes at Soldier Field, which moved him to the top of the all-time list for six point tosses.
On Monday night, Brady completed a pair of scoring passes to retake the all-time lead in aerial touchdowns, 561 to 560.
In other words, on Sunday we get to see a pair of quarterbacks who have combined for 1,121 touchdown passes, the most ever for dueling NFL signal callers. They are also playing for first place in their division. Both teams have lost a pair of games, which includes an opening day loss in New Orleans by the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay holds the lead in the NFC South right now based on having played one more game and winning it. Brady is 6-2 this season, Brees 5-2.
This matchup is even more than a battle between two certain first ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks, it is a benchmark midseason game that will give one of these two squads a huge advantage in the hunt for a division title and first round bye in the NFC playoffs. If the Saints win this week, then they would have both a half game lead over the Buccaneers and the advantage in any tiebreaker with a pair of straight-up victories over Tampa Bay.
If the Bucs win, they maintain both their narrow lead in the division standings and if the two teams were to end the season with the same number of wins and losses, a possible tiebreaker edge.
Now, I’m going to be honest, while watching the Bucs play the New York Giants on Monday night I was rooting for the Giants to upset Brady and company straight-up. New York did get the point spread decision, getting 13 points on the line and losing by only two, and their attempt to tie the game with a two point conversion was missed on a controversial pass interference call first flagged and then reversed. For the record, the reverse was the right call, it wasn’t pass interference.
Anyway, I was rooting for the Giants to land the upset win because if they had, well then what we could have wagered on this week was a Buccaneers team that needed a win over the Saints while in second place and motivated off a loss.
The point spread would also have been shrunk based on the Bucs loss while their chances for a win would have been enhanced.
While we don’t get that glaring advantage because the Giants didn’t pull off the upset on Monday, we do get still a significant edge with the home team on Sunday night.
The Buccaneers are getting better as the season progresses with Brady having time to work with his new cast of characters. Brees, conversely, has had his offense depleted by injuries as this season has progressed, and unless whatever is ailing Michael Thomas is cleared up before these two teams meet, the guy with the most passing yards in NFL history is short a reliable target.
Great game, primetime, NFL at its best, and a clear edge for the home team.
Qoxhi Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4½) over New Orleans Saints