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NFL Divisional Round: Saints-Buccaneers preview, live stream, playoff schedule

Arun Srinivasan
·Writer
·5-min read

The NFL's decision to expand its playoff format for the 2020 season is already paying dividends for the league. Super Wild Card Weekend provided fans with six competitive games, a few upsets, and eight teams now remain with hopes of lifting the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay.

[Watch the NFL Playoffs on DAZN: Get DAZN free for 30 days and stream the game live]

The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will begin their title defense against the Cleveland Browns, while MVP favourite Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers play host to Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams. After winning their first playoff game since 1995, the Buffalo Bills host the Baltimore Ravens, while Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints square off against Tom Brady and the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers to cap off the divisional round. Although the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat to disrupt the playoffs, each of the eight remaining teams survived the wild card weekend, with the Super Bowl now in clear view.

Division Round Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady hug after their season opening NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. The Saints won 34-23. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
This may be the last time we see Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees face off against each other. (AP/Butch Dill)

Date: Sunday January 17 at 6:40 p.m. ET
How to watch: Live on DAZN

It’s tempting to consider this game as the possible end of an era, as this could be the last time Brady and Brees face off against each other. Brady has shown few signs of slowing down, undergoing a renaissance of sorts, while Brees battled through 11 broken ribs to recover in time for the playoffs. Reducing this divisional rivalry to the sum of their quarterbacks’ accomplishments would be a disservice to both teams, however, as they rightfully carry real Super Bowl ambitions.

It wasn’t the prettiest performance but the Saints still marched all over the Bears in a 21-9 win. Michael Thomas was limited to seven regular season games, but the reigning Offensive Player of the Year is rounding back into top form with seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown against Chicago. Deonte Harris looks comfortable as a No. 2 option as Emmanuel Sanders struggled on Sunday, while Jared Cook is more than a mere safety valve for Brees. Alvin Kamara is the all-around weapon who could break this game open and on passing downs, the Saints could overwhelm a talented but inexperienced Buccaneers secondary, stacking him with Thomas.

Tampa Bay hardly resembles the outfit that crumbled in both head-to-head games. Lavonte David continues to be one of the best linebackers of his generation and Tampa Bay may receive a boost if second-year rising star linebacker Devin White is activated from the COVID-19 list. Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are both quietly undergoing renaissance seasons, and the Buccaneers’ pass rush could force Brees into a handful of mistakes.

Mike Evans was hardly slowed by a knee injury with six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown against Washington, Chris Godwin can run every route on the tree, and with every game Antonio Brown is beginning to resemble the player who appeared to be a Hall of Fame lock 22 months ago. Brady has more weapons than he’s had in over a decade and he has the Buccaneers firing on all cylinders.

[Watch the NFL Playoffs on DAZN: Get DAZN free for 30 days and stream the game live]

New Orleans is the toughest test Tampa Bay has faced all year and forced Brady into a zero-touchdown, three-interception performance in a 38-3 loss on Nov. 8. Trey Hendrickson, Cam Jordan, Demario Davis and the Saints’ front seven will be reinvigorated with the task of neutralizing Brady and shutting down a seemingly rejuvenated Leonard Fournette. Although Tampa Bay’s star-studded receiving trio is a nightmare on paper, Marshon Lattimore is among the league’s best corners and New Orleans has its number.

Saints vs. Buccaneers: Tale of the Tape

Category

NO

TB

Record

12-4

11-5

Head-to-Head

2-0

0-2

Points For (per game)

30.1

30.8

Points Against (per game)

21.1

22.2

Saints will win because

New Orleans’ fifth-ranked scoring defense has enough weapons of its own to keep Tampa Bay’s star receivers in check, and it is getting healthy at the right time. Thomas and Kamara alone command a disproportionate amount of attention on every snap and Brees should be able to calmly go through his reads all day. The Saints have dominated the Buccaneers twice this season, and there’s little reason why they can’t do it again.

Buccaneers will win because

Third time’s the charm, right? Brady is the best playoff performer in NFL history and though the Saints have been the Buccaneers’ kryptonite this season, the GOAT is elevating his game at the right time. Brown was just getting acquainted with the Buccaneers’ offense in the Nov. 8 loss and he’s now beginning to overwhelm corners as an overqualified No. 3 option. Tampa Bay is scorching-hot and would like nothing more to stick it to its rival and biggest foe this season, with a berth to the NFC title game on the line.

NFL Divisional Round Previews

What’s the NFL Playoffs schedule in 2021?

  • Wild Card games: January 9-10

  • Divisional games: January 16-17

  • Conference championships: January 24

  • Super Bowl: February 7

NFL Divisional Round Schedule

Saturday January 16

Time (ET)

Matchup

Stream

4:35 p.m.

Rams at Packers

DAZN

8:05 p.m.

Ravens at Bills

DAZN

NFL Divisional Round Schedule

Sunday January 17

Time (ET)

Matchup

Stream

3:05 p.m.

Browns at Chiefs

DAZN

6:40 p.m.

Bucs at Saints

DAZN

NFL AFC/NFC Conference Championship Schedule

Sunday January 24

Time

Matchup

Stream

TBD

TBD

DAZN

TBD

TBD

DAZN

NFL Super Bowl 55 Schedule

Sunday February 7

Time

Matchup

Stream

TBD

AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion

DAZN

More NFL Playoffs on Yahoo Sports