By Andy Villamarzo
JAN. 17, 2020–The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5) are in the NFL Divisional Round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and that’s the same year the franchise went ahead to win it all in San Diego over the Oakland Raiders. Now the Buccaneers are hoping they can mount another deep run into the playoffs and somehow win it all behind the right-arm of 43-year old quarterback Tom Brady. The 31-23 win over the Washington Football Team was a good start and now Tampa Bay will take on the New Orleans Saints, a team that the Buccaneers have faced twice before and have found no luck in defeating. The first meeting of the season kicked off the NFL campaign with a national audience and the Saints upended the Buccaneers 34-23. The second meeting was a complete and utter domination of the Buccaneers at the hands of the Saints, with New Orleans winning 38-3. Now the Buccaneers are hoping that the third time is in fact the charm when they roll into the ‘Big Easy’. We now take a closer look at a few keys to tonight’s pivotal NFC Divisional Round matchup.
Slow down Alvin Kamara
Since New Orleans’ quarterback Drew Brees has returned to the lineup from his multiple broken ribs injury, the overall workload being given to Alvin Kamara has increased majorly as the Brees works his way back to 100 percent. Kamara scored six rushing touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Day, but he hasn’t seen such success on the ground versus Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers should key on slowing down the speedy Kamara.
Tom Brady has to figure out Saints’ defense
Nothing has been more confusing for Tom Brady this season than trying to figure out the Saints’ defense through two games. Brady finished the regular season throwing for 40 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions. Five of those picks came against New Orleans and Brady now has a chance to erase the bad memories of both losses to the Saints. With the Buccaneers winners of their last five games and the offense humming, Brady figures to play a lot better than the previous two meetings. Stay tuned.
Turnovers can not happen
And to follow up on the above, Tampa Bay can ill afford to turn over the football whatsoever to New Orleans and need to stay ahead of the chains. Brady has been near perfect in the last five games for Tampa Bay, throwing for 14 touchdowns and just one interception. For any quarterback a stretch like that, is pretty incredible. But for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, getting to the playoffs and winning just one game wasn’t what they’ve been working hard towards. The ultimate goal is reaching and winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.