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Saints at Buccaneers: 6 storylines to watch for in Week 13 – Saints Wire

You typically won’t find much intrigue surrounding a matchup between two teams with 9 combined wins going into Week 13, but the New Orleans Saints (4-8) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6) are set up for a dramatic game in prime time. They’ll kick off on Monday Night Football next week with a lot on the line: playoff odds, bragging rights, and so much more. It’s shaping up for a pivotal game for New Orleans. Here are six storylines we’ll be watching:
AP Photo/Jason Behnken
This isn’t hyperbole: the Saints’ already-weak playoff odds drop to less than 1% with a loss. If they can’t knock off the Buccaneers on Monday night, their season is cooked. They won’t have anything left to play for but pride. It’ll take another week or two for them to be mathematically eliminated, but realistically, this is their last stand. Going into the bye week after this with a 4-9 record is exactly as strong a condemnation as it looks like.
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
The Saints have beaten Brady at Raymond James Stadium twice already, by margins of 9-0 and 38-3. And they’ve done so with tight coverage in the secondary and a relentless pass rush trusting their defensive line to get home. But Brady found a way to break through in their meeting earlier this season, throwing the ball away so quickly that his receivers sometimes weren’t ready for it. It was enough for Tampa Bay to score 13 points (an interception returned for a touchdown tacked extended their lead to 20-10) last time, but will it work again?
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Lattimore has missed seven games with two broken ribs and a lacerated kidney, but he returned to practice on a limited basis last week and was questionable to play against the San Francisco 49ers (though he ultimately didn’t dress out). Maybe he returns this week? The Saints could use him in the secondary. He’s a transformational talent who can take half the field away, especially against a receiver he’s beaten often before in Mike Evans. With Bradley Roby in concussion protocol, the Saints are shorthanded again at cornerback.
AP Photo/Zach Bolinger
The ex-Saints draft pick has enjoyed beating up on his former team in the past, but things haven’t gone as expected when he signed with the Buccaneers to chase a Super Bowl ring. He hasn’t registered a single sack or tackle for loss through five games this season (having missed time with a foot injury), but if he’s going to light up, it’ll likely be for this matchup on Monday night.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
The undrafted rookie out of Weber State played more snaps at wide receiver last week (30) than anyone but Chris Olave (38) or Jarvis Landry (32). The week before that, he tied Olave with 28 snaps behind Landry (32). He’s the new WR3 in the Saints offense, and they’re making an effort to see what he can do in a variety of roles with different responsibilities. So far, he’s responding well. What do they have in store for him against Tampa Bay?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Saints haven’t said anything publicly about a quarterback change, but no one would question it if they went back to Winston this week. Andy Dalton has scored 13, 10, and 0 points in three of their last four games. Maybe Winston provides a spark. He’d certainly be eager to play against the team that gave up on him — his motivation to do so despite a serious back injury is something everyone regrets from earlier this year — but it ultimately comes down to the coach’s decision. Will Dennis Allen stick with Dalton?
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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
Articles: 7580

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