For the final game of Week 13, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the division rival New Orleans Saints on "Monday Night Football."
Both Tampa and New Orleans lost last week, with the Bucs dropping a rather embarrassing overtime game to the Browns and the Saints getting shut out by the 49ers. They'll each look to get back on track here. Tampa Bay won the first game between these two teams back in Week 2, a low-scoring affair in which then-Saints quarterback Jameis Winston was intercepted three times, with one of them being returned for a touchdown.
Which of these two NFC South squads will get back in the win column on Monday night? We'll find out soon enough. Before we break down the matchup, here's a look at how you can watch the game.
How to watch
Date: Monday, Dec. 5 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida)
TV: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Buccaneers -3.5, O/U 41 (courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)
When the Saints have the ball
This side of the matchup is going to come down to injuries. Tampa Bay has listed Sean Murphy-Bunting, Antoine Winfield Jr., and Mike Edwards as doubtful, and Vita Vea and Akiem Hicks as questionable. No matter what, the Bucs are likely to be shorthanded in the defensive backfield, but if they're also without their star contributors up front, things will obviously look much different.
Andy Dalton has been very up-and-down under center for the Saints, but has been more willing this year than over the last few to actually push the ball down the field. He averaged just 6.8 air yards per attempt when starting for Dallas in 2020, 6.9 per attempt during his time in Chicago last season, but is up to 7.9 per attempt in New Orleans.
Rookie wideout Chris Olave has been his top target on the outside, while Alvin Kamara has been the guy underneath. Olave has averaged 7.9 targets and 69.3 receiving yards per game in Dalton's starts, while Kamara has been targeted 6.8 times for 50.4 receiving yards per contest. Without tight end Juwan Johnson to stretch the field up the seams, the New Orleans passing attack might become even more concentrated on those two guys. Olave is likely to see a lot of Carlton Davis, given the state of both Tampa's secondary and New Orleans' wide receiver room, while Lavonte David should do his usual work in coverage against Kamara.
If Vea and/or Hicks can play, the Bucs would have some advantages up front against a Saints offensive line that is dealing without center Erik McCoy but could have rookie tackle Trevor Penning back in the mix. Penning played six snaps last week against the 49ers, with James Hurst taking the majority of the snaps. Tampa's run defense hasn't been quite as impenetrable this season as the last few, so perhaps a heavy dose of Kamara could be in store here.
With The First Pick Newsletter
With The First Pick Newsletter
Prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft with the day’s big stories + mock drafts, big board updates and more.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
When the Buccaneers have the ball
Back in Week 2, Tom Brady finally got his first regular-season win against the Saints as a Buccaneer. It wasn't exactly his best performance, but it was still one of the best games he's put together against New Orleans since arriving in Tampa prior to the 2020 season. Dennis Allen's defense has, for the most part, had Brady's number over the past few years.
Even in the Bucs' playoff victory over the Saints, Brady only went 18 of 33 for 199 yards, though he did manage two touchdowns against zero interceptions. Still, 6 yards per attempt is not particularly Brady-like.
Allen's defense is banged up heading into this matchup, and not as strong this season as in recent years. The Saints come into this game ranked 15th in Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA, compared with third last season and second in 2020. They've taken a bigger drop in their performance against the run (20th in DVOA) than the pass (12th), but each dip is notable. The Saints also come into this contest with (deep breath) Payton Turner and P.J. Williams out, and Marshon Lattimore, Pete Werner, Bradley Roby, and Kentavius Street all listed as questionable.
Lattimore has had some memorable head-to-head battles with Mike Evans over the years, and he surely wants to suit up for another one. He's largely gotten the better of Evans, a reality that no doubt has played a significant role in Brady's struggles in this matchup. The passing game flowing through Chris Godwin in the slot is more likely to yield success for the Bucs, but their best bet to move the ball efficiently may be rediscovering the run game behind Rachaad White and/or Leonard Fournette. That's not typically the case in 2022, but given Brady's struggles in this matchup and the struggles of the Bucs overall throughout this season, that might be the case here.
White had 22 carries for 105 yards back in Germany before the bye, and it seems like he's moved ahead of Fournette on the depth chart. He might need to do a bunch of work on his own, though, because the Bucs will be without star right tackle Tristan Wirfs, who is the team's best offensive lineman.
Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Saints 16