The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the first game they ever played in the Louisiana Superdome. If they can do the same in their first postseason game ever at that venue, they will be on to the 2020 NFC Championship Game.
After opening their 2020 playoff run with a road win over the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card round Saturday night, the Buccaneers now steer their ship to New Orleans, where they will take on the NFC South-rival Saints in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. That destination was determined on Sunday afternoon when New Orleans defeated the visiting Chicago Bears, 21-9.
The two teams will play next Sunday, January 17, at 6:40 p.m. ET on FOX.
The Saints and Buccaneers, who finished first and second in the South with 12-4 and 11-5 records, respectively, will meet for the third time this season. The Saints won both contests, including a 34-23 decision in the Superdome in Week One. New Orleans also won at Raymond James Stadium in Week Nine by a 38-3 score on Sunday Night Football.
That first victory for the Buccaneers in New Orleans doubled as the franchise's very first win, late in the expansion team's second season on December 11, 1977. Another win next weekend would obviously not be the franchise's first postseason win, but it would propel them to their first NFC Championship Game since 2002. The Buccaneers and Saints will be meeting in the playoffs for the first time.
The other NFC game in the Divisional Round will pit the Los Angeles Rams at the Green Bay Packers. The Rams, a Wild Card team and the sixth-overall seed, defeated their own division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, by a 30-20 score on Saturday afternoon. The Packers received the conference's only first-round by as the top overall seed.
The Saints gave the Buccaneers two of their five losses on the season, which proved to be the difference in the division standings, as New Orleans won the NFC South for the fourth year in a row. Those two contests were the only ones Tampa Bay lost by more than three points all season. Their other three losses – to Chicago, the Rams and Kansas City – were decided by a total of three points.
The Buccaneers will take a 7-2 record into the Superdome next weekend, including their win at Washington. The Saints are also 7-2 at home this season, including their win over the Bears.
Tampa Bay has won six of its eight games since the Week Nine loss to New Orleans, including all four played on the road. In that span, the Buccaneers' have scored an average of 34.1 points per game. In the two losses to the Saints, the Bucs allowed six of the 21 sacks Brady suffered all season and also picked the Bucs' quarterback off five times. Brady only threw seven interceptions in Tampa Bay's other 15 games, including the Wild Card win at Washington. New Orleans' fourth-ranked defense was led by a fierce pass rush that ranked sixth in the league in sacks per pass play.
The Divisional game in New Orleans is most notable for its pairing of Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks Brady and Drew Brees. Brady and Brees are first and second, respectively in NFL history in touchdown passes (581 for Brady, 571 for Brees). Brady's edge in the postseason is much larger, as he holds the all-time lead with 75 touchdown passes while Brees is sixth with 34. And, of course, Brady is chasing his seventh Super Bowl title while Brees is trying to add a second.
The Saints won the regular-season series against the Buccaneers, and with it the NFC South crown. However, Tampa Bay now gets a third crack at their division rival, with much more at stake. An eighth win on the road in 2020 would put the Buccaneers one step closer to coming home for Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.