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NFL: New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers preview

The New Orleans Saints face a must-win Monday night game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - the team they must knock off the top of the NFC South to make the playoffs.

The 4-8 Saints are on a three-game losing skid, including a 13-0 defeat to San Francisco last week which was the first time they had been shutout since 2001.

But tantalizingly, the 5-6 Bucs are only one win better off than New Orleans in the NFL's only division where no team has established a winning record.

What: New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
When: 01:15, Tuesday 6th December 2022
How to watch: Sky Sports NFL, NFL Game Pass, Channel 5 & bet365 Sports Live Streaming
Odds: NO Saints 17/10, TB Buccaneers 1/2

Saints seek formula to bamboozle Brady

Tom Brady couldn't produce any of his usual late-game magic as Tampa Bay lost in overtime to the Cleveland Browns last Sunday and now goes up against a defense that has repeatedly confused him during his time in South Florida.

So, in the worst division in football, the team at the bottom of the standings still has a shot to make the postseason.

The Saints simply have to win on Monday night to have any chance of making the playoffs in their first season under Dennis Allen.

New Orleans have won the majority of the regular season matchups with Tampa during Brady's three seasons as the Bucs' QB and, although they are struggling on offense and anything but dominant on defense, they could find the formula to do it again.

Bucs' offense has been bottled up

The Buccaneers are not scoring enough points, according to Brady himself, and it's hard to argue with the seven-time Super Bowl champion on this one given their recent drop-off in offensive production.

Tampa Bay have topped 21 points just twice this season and both were in losing causes - a 41-31 Week 4 loss to the Chiefs and a 27-22 reverse at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens in October.

Since the start of November, they are averaging 18 points per game and have relied on their defense to earn victories against a slumping Los Angeles Rams and an inconsistent Seattle Seahawks.

Last week's overtime loss to the Browns was worrisome because they lost All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs to a left leg injury that will keep him out this Monday and Brady could not magic up a win when the chips were down.

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Shutout loss saw Saints at their worst

The Saints hit a new low against a very good 49ers team last week and will have to be much better to keep their faint hopes alive.

They look set to roll with Andy Dalton again at QB after he threw for 204 yards in the shutout loss last week.

In nine games this year, Dalton has thrown for 2,023 yards with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. However, the Saints are 3-6 with him starting and he hasn't quite made enough plays to get it done.

The Bucs' passing defense, which ranks sixth in the NFL, have only been allowing 192 passing yards per game, so they will probably have to lean on running back Alvin Kamara.

And he owes them a performance after coughing up the ball twice last week, including one near the goal line in the fourth quarter, as the Saints' rushing attack was held to just 63 yards on the ground.

Value in the under, despite low Total

Unsurprisingly, given the offensive struggles of both teams, the Total is a low one for this game at 40.5 points.

But there is still some scope to take the Under at 10/11 in the belief that neither Dalton nor this mere mortal version of Brady can hang enough points on each other's defense.

The Saints have been shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers this season, but there are going to be some potential playmakers missing from the Bucs' defense with safeties Mike Edwards and Antoine Winfield Jr, plus DT Vita Vea listed as questionable.

New Orleans listed eight players as having missed Friday's practice with various injuries.

Tampa Bay are getting Leonard Fournette back for this game, but he has not been the force of a couple of years ago when he seemed to don a Superman cape for the playoffs.

The Bucs are last in the league in rushing offense, which tells its own story, and they rank just 25th in the NFL in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns this season.

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