The New Orleans Saints are aiming for their fourth-straight NFC South title, and only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stand in the way.
For the second time this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the New Orleans Saints. For the first and hopefully only time this season, it’ll be held in Tampa.
In a game that will decide first place in the NFC South for the time being, the 6-2 Bucs will welcome the 5-2 Saints. New Orleans has already had their bye, leaving them a game behind. Both of the records pop on paper, but they’ve been far from easy to obtain.
For the Saints, they’ve won four straight, all by one score, and have trailed in all seven games this season. As for Tampa Bay, they were in a narrow win against the lowly New York Giants this past Monday. They did blast the Packers, a nice win to add to their resume.
With seven teams entering the postseason from the NFC this season, the Saints and Bucs will both have a high probability to make the playoffs. If they started today, the Saints would make the Wild Card round, along with two NFC West franchises.
There’s still half a season to go though, and New Orleans has improved their roster by adding linebacker Kwon Alexander just days ago. He should strengthen the middle of the field, a clear weakness for the team.
That said, while the opportunity to take over the division may be brief, the winner of Saints-Bucs in Week 9 will be in first place until at least Week 10. For the Saints, a loss won’t guarantee them a second place finish, but it will be put reasonably behind.
With the Chiefs still on the schedule, a five-loss season (assuming they also drop one to Atlanta or Carolina somewhere) may somehow not cut it as the top dog in the NFC South this season. The Bucs would be streaking if they downed the Saints and could ride high on confidence for the remainder of the season.
For New Orleans, winning this game could propel them to a strong second half. Also, if they manage to win the NFC South, it’ll be a division record four times in a row. Week 9 will set the pace for the rest of the season, and it’ll have massive implications on the division.