The 6-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won three straight games and the 5-2 New Orleans Saints have won four in a row as the two teams prepare for their 2020 rematch in Week Nine. Whichever team puts one more game on the end of its winning streak will also have sole possession of first place in the NFC South at the season's midway point.
The Buccaneers bounce from one prime-time stage to another, as they follow their 25-23 Monday night win over the New York Giants with their first Sunday Night Football appearance in four years. Tampa Bay last played on Sunday evening in December of 2016 at Dallas. This will be the first Sunday night game in Tampa – and perhaps the Bucs' first victory on that platform – since a 20-10 win over Seattle in November of 2008.
The Saints' visit was originally supposed to be Tampa Bay's second SNF appearance in 2020, but their Week Seven contest in Las Vegas was moved to late afternoon due to the Raiders' COVID-19 complications. Still, the upcoming contest is one of four prime-time games for Tampa Bay in a span of four weeks. The Buccaneers will play a Monday Night Football Game at Raymond James Stadium against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11.
View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 8 matchup against New York on Monday Night Football.
This coming Sunday, the Buccaneers will be looking to avenge their season-opening loss in New Orleans. Since that 34-23 decision, Tampa Bay has won six of seven, with its only loss a one-point final in Chicago in Week Five. The Buccaneers lost that debut game for Tom Brady despite holding the Saints to 271 yards of offense, in part because Brady's two touchdowns were balanced by two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Janoris Jenkins.
This time, as Brady and Drew Brees match throws again, Brady is red hot, having thrown 20 touchdown passes and only one interception in his last six games. Brady was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October and since then he has been handed another weapon for his passing attack. Wide receiver Antonio Brown, officially signed last week, is eligible to make his own Buccaneer debut on Sunday night.
The spotlight will definitely be on the two 40-something quarterbacks once again, especially because the two have spent the last couple weeks handing the all-time NFL touchdown pass trophy back and forth. For the record, that list currently starts with Brady at number one with 561, followed by Brees at 560.
Those venerable and wildly successful passers obviously deserve the spotlight, but the Buccaneers' rising defense has made itself hard to ignore as the season has progressed. After holding off the Giants, Tampa Bay is now tied for first in the NFL in interceptions with 11 and tied for second in sacks in 28 and has seen its bevy of young stars-in-the-making take turns making big plays. On Monday night it was, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis with the big picks and rookie safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. who sealed the win by breaking up the Giants' two-point conversion try in the game's final minutes.
That defense will have its hands full with running back Alvin Kamara, who is not only the Saints' leading rusher but is on pace to put up the most receptions and receiving yards by a back in NFL history. Kamara could also potentially be joined by Michael Thomas, who hasn't played since the opener due to a variety of reasons, and Emmanuel Sanders, who is expected to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The Buccaneers hope to put a little bit of distance between themselves and the Saints and avoid giving their division rivals a two-game head-to-head tiebreaker. The Saints will seek to show that they are still the team to beat in the South as they go for their fourth straight division title. It will all play out before a national audience on NBC, with kickoff scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET on November 8.