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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints: Tom Brady and Michael Thomas among the six reasons to watch NFC South clash | NFL News



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Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys from Week One of the NFL season.

Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys from Week One of the NFL season.

Tom Brady and Michael Thomas are among the players to look out for in this NFC South rivalry clash as we pick out six reasons to watch the game live on Sky Sports NFL on Sunday @ 6…

Michael Thomas continues his comeback

The sight of a smooth-running, touchdown-scoring Michael Thomas will have come as welcome news to Dennis Allen, Jameis Winston and the Saints organisation in Week One as the team’s star wide receiver made his long-awaited return to action.

Thomas cashed in two trips to the end zone to help steer New Orleans to a 27-26 victory over the Atlanta Falcons having been out for 20 months, including the entire 2021 season, due to an ankle injury. It was not so long ago that the 2016 second-round pick sat atop receiving stats charts when he recorded an NFL-record 149 catches for a league-leading 1,725 yards during the 2019 campaign.

Highlights of the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons from Week One of the NFL season.

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Highlights of the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons from Week One of the NFL season.

Highlights of the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons from Week One of the NFL season.

He features as part of a multi-pronged Saints offense alongside veteran wideout Jarvis Landry, who led the team with 114 receiving yards in Week One, as well as rookie first-round pick Chris Olave and star running back Alvin Kamara. They encounter a Bucs defense that surrendered just three points and 244 total yards in their opening weekend win over the Cowboys, who ranked first on offense in 2021.

Are there concerns over Brady?

Tom Brady got the job done in Tampa’s 19-3 opening victory over Dallas, but that’s about all he did. The veteran quarterback was fairly efficient in completing 18 of 27 passes for 212 yards, a TD and an interception, but this was not the Brady vintage of a year ago who led the league in passing yards (5,316) and touchdowns (43).

Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys from Week One of the NFL season.

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Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys from Week One of the NFL season.

Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys from Week One of the NFL season.

It’s not a case of the 45-year-old struggling physically necessarily, despite his age. The arm is still there, for now. It’s more that there are questions surrounding the seven-time Super Bowl winner’s mental state currently, with speculation in the States over the time he took off from training camp before the season centering around potential problems at home.

Can Brady ignore all of the outside noise and focus on football? That has always been one of his great strengths and he’ll certainly need to be at his best for Sunday’s matchup.

Watch some of the top plays from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver tandem Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

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Watch some of the top plays from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver tandem Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Watch some of the top plays from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver tandem Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Happy hunting for the Saints

While few across the league can attest to positive returns against a Brady-led outfit, the Saints boast a 4-0 record over the Bucs since the arrival of the seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Brady has thrown eight interceptions in those defeats, and failed to log a touchdown pass on two occasions.

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen has helped mastermind four-straight regular season wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen has helped mastermind four-straight regular season wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Saints claimed a 34-23 opening day victory and a 38-3 win in Week Nine of Tampa’s Super Bowl-winning 2020 campaign. And though Brady’s Bucs earned some revenge in the playoffs that year, normal service was resumed last season, with New Orleans first triumphing 36-27 and then securing a 9-0 shutout.

“They’re a very physical team, I think they beat us up, physically. It’s just a tough, hard-nosed team,” said Brady. “They’re well-coached, they’ve got a lot of good players. They’ve kind of had a winning organisation for a long time.

“They know how to get the job done. They’ve got a lot of great core players on both sides of the ball that have been there a long time. It’s a tough environment to play but you’ve got to go play… you play good teams on the road, you’ve got to go play well. The last couple of times we’ve played them, we haven’t done a great job of that.”

Increased role for ‘playoff Lenny’ in regular season?

While Brady didn’t have his best outing in the season opener against the Cowboys, Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette certainly enjoyed a fine outing, returning 127 yards rushing off 21 carries – his highest mark in a single game in almost three years.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette earned the nickname 'playoff Lenny' due to his stellar performances in the postseason

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette earned the nickname ‘playoff Lenny’ due to his stellar performances in the postseason

The 27-year-old, who joined Tampa Bay for their 2020 season and subsequently earned the nickname ‘playoff Lenny’ for his impressive showings during their Super Bowl run, has tended to underwhelm during the regular season. This was only Fournette’s fourth game with over 100 yards rushing since a 131-yard effort for his former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, in October 2019.

He looked fitter and sharper than he has for some time and, as Brady works his way back to peak fitness, the Buccaneers might be wise to lean on their battering ram in the backfield.

Best right tackle in the business?

One of the duels of Sunday’s game could come on the right side of the Bucs’ offensive line as right tackle Tristan Wirfs, arguably the most accomplished player in the league at his position, resumes what has been an enthralling battle with Saints edge rusher Cam Jordan over the last two seasons.

Wirfs has allowed just three sacks since entering the league as the 13th overall pick in 2020, winning the Super Bowl in his rookie year before earning his maiden Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections in 2021 as an integral cog to Brady’s pass protection. His talent was underlined again in Week One when the Cowboys were forced to shift Micah Parsons across to the left side of Tampa’s offensive line in order to find any joy through their lead pass rusher.

The Saints’ Jordan has 107 sacks in 11 seasons since entering the league in 2011, bettered only by Chandler Jones (107.5) and Von Miller (117.5) in that period, as one of Wirfs’ toughest tests in his younger career with ferocious power and one of the league’s most polished menu of pass rush moves.

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September 18, 2022, 5:00pm

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Redzone returns!

In case it passed you by last week… Scott Hansen is back, ladies and gentlemen!

And if those words don’t mean anything to you, they soon will if you tune in to NFL Redzone live on Sky Sports Mix from 6pm on Sunday, the NFL’s frantic, utterly-exhilarating answer to Soccer Saturday of sorts.

Think Jeff Stelling on a sugar high of epic proportions, except Hansen feasts only on football, football and more football!

Keep up to speed with updates from the seven NFL games taking place in the 6pm window on Sunday night and the five kicking off in the later slots at 9.05pm and 9.25pm, with Hansen and his team bringing you every touchdown scored. It’s a wild ride!

Watch Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints on the second NFL Sunday of the season – live on Sky Sports NFL at 6pm.





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