The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' margin for error is slim after suffering a heartbreaking loss in the waning moments of last week's contest. The Buccaneers will look to snap a three-game losing skid and keep their faint postseason aspirations alive when they visit the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Tampa Bay saw an 11-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate in short order before dropping a 23-21 decision to reeling Philadelphia.
While the Buccaneers' postseason hopes are thin at best, they have more meat on their bones than New Orleans. The Saints also lost their third in a row and were pushed to the brink of elimination after getting throttled 52-27 by the New York Giants last week. New Orleans needs a victory on Sunday and losses by Chicago, Seattle and Washington just to remain in the postseason discussion.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Saints -3.5, O/U 53.5
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (6-7): Tampa Bay also squandered a double-digit lead en route to dropping a 35-28 decision to New Orleans on Oct. 21. Josh Freeman threw for a career-best 420 yards and three scores in that contest - and should find the passing lanes friendly once again versus the Saints' porous defense. Vincent Jackson had a stellar seven-reception, 216-yard effort versus New Orleans, but his failure to score on a 95-yard play resulted in the Buccaneers walking away without a point on that possession.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (5-8): Drew Brees tossed four touchdowns in his last contest versus Tampa Bay, but has thrown seven interceptions over the last two games. With tight end Jimmy Graham sidelined with an ankle injury in the teams' previous meeting, Brees found his other security blanket in Marques Colston. The wideout reeled in seven catches for 73 yards and a score, but Colston has only found the end zone once in last four games.
1. After setting Tampa Bay's rookie rushing record last week, Doug Martin (1,234) is just 310 yards shy of James Wilder's franchise mark.
2. New Orleans' defense is yielding a league-worst 436.9 yards - nearly 42 1/2 yards more than 31st-ranked Jacksonville.
3. The Buccaneers boast the No. 1 rush defense, which is not good news as the Saints continue to struggle running the ball. New Orleans is 26th in the league with an average of 98.6 yards.
Saints 34, Buccaneers 24