The New Orleans Saints have managed to withstand the loss of quarterback Drew Brees to sit atop the NFC South at the quarter-pole of the NFL season. Coming off a stellar defensive effort in a win over the previously unbeaten Dallas Cowboys last week, New Orleans' defense will be put to the test again by the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a division matchup Sunday afternoon.
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The Saints managed only four field goals in the 12-10 win over Dallas, leading quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to offer a "sorry to fantasy teams," but his coach was not apologizing for his play. "He can play better -- and I think he would tell you the same thing," coach Sean Payton said. "But he's won two games in a row with understanding what we're doing." The Buccaneers have lost twice at home and won twice on the road, handing the Los Angeles Rams their first loss with a stunning offensive eruption in a 55-40 victory last week. "Victories like these galvanize a team, and this team is starting to believe and see what they can be," first-year coach Bruce Arians said after Tampa Bay set a franchise record for points in a game.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Saints -3. O/U: 46.5
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (2-2): Jameis Winston has battled inconsistency since he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after carving up the Rams with 385 yards and four touchdown passes. "I don't know if anybody's played better the last three weeks than he has, and the numbers should bear it -- we put a lot of points up," Arians said. Chris Godwin hauled in a pair of scoring passes while establishing career highs with 12 receptions and 172 yards and Ronald Jones gave the running game a boost with 70 yards and a score. Shaquil Barrett collected his ninth sack, tying for the most by any player in the first four games.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (3-1): Bridgewater has put up modest stats since Brees was hurt in the first quarter in Week 2, but he finished 23 of 30 for 193 yards versus Dallas and guided New Orleans on a nine-minute drive that led to the go-ahead field goal. "I could care less about the numbers," said Bridgewater, who missed nearly two full seasons with a gruesome knee injury while with Minnesota. "I'll leave the numbers to Mike Thomas, Alvin Kamara and those guys." Thomas had nine receptions for 95 yards to give him 34 catches on the season while Kamara is averaging 70 yards rushing and five catches. The Saints have been vulnerable through the air, yielding 279.3 yards per contest.
1. Winston threw for 970 yards and six TDs in his last three road games versus the NFC South.
2. Kamara has scored six touchdowns and averaged 127 yards per scrimmage in four games versus Tampa Bay.
3. Barrett was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month, tying for the third-most sacks in a month in league history.
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Spence will spend the entire 2020 season on the Injured Reserve Non-Football Injury list due to a torn ACL.