Buccaneers at Saints: Preview, broadcast info for Week 9

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Mark Ingram /

The Buccaneers (2-5) are absolutely in must-win mode, and maybe even in must-win-seven-of-their-last-nine mode, when they take on the Saints (5-2) in New Orleans on Sunday. Here, we preview the matchup and tell you where to watch and listen to the 1:00 p.m. kickoff.

Losers of four straight, the Buccaneers are quickly seeing their once-promising playoff hopes fade. Things won’t get any easier this Sunday when they collide with a red-hot Saints team in the Superdome. With five divisional games and nine total games left on the schedule, Tampa Bay isn’t quite done. However, this team needs a quick turnaround and a miraculous season-ending run to lock down a playoff spot. A loss on Sunday kills whatever glimpse of hope the Bucs still have.

The most recent of Tampa Bay’s four consecutive losses came last Sunday at home. The Buccaneer defense held the Panthers to just 17 points, but the offense never got going. A Patrick Murray field goal was all the Bucs could put together on another disappointing afternoon. Vernon Hargreaves had a second straight positive performance, even with veteran Brent Grimes missing from the other side of the field. The defensive line remained a non-factor, but for once, it was the offense taking the blame for a loss. Jameis Winston struggled heavily, having what might’ve been the worst game of his season.

The debate right now seems to be about Winston’s shoulder and whether or not it’s serious enough to serve as a reason for his poor performance against the Panthers. He did throw at practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week, which might mean the injury really isn’t much of a factor. If it is, though, Sunday’s game might tell us if putting the young quarterback on injured reserve is the best move for the long-term. 

Another topic of discussion at the moment is the job security of Dirk Koetter, Mike Smith and Jason Licht. With all of the hype heading into this season, who saw that coming? The Bucs really can’t afford to fire yet another coach, but it’s looking like a real possibility these days. Koetter needs to turn his team around to get himself off the hot seat, especially if the recent Jon Gruden rumors have any legs.

The Saints have won five in a row after an 0-2 start, which has them leading the NFC South. Drew Brees is still leading a strong offense, even after the team got rid of a frustrated Adrian Peterson. Mark Ingram, rookie Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas could all give the Buccaneer defense some problems on Sunday. And the defense, which was once a huge concern, looks like it’s on the right path. New Orleans is dangerous, which doesn’t make turning things around on Sunday a very easy task for Tampa Bay.

The last time these two teams met, the Saints won 31-24 on Christmas Eve and severely hurt the Bucs’ playoff chances. Ingram was an issue all day, rushing for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Tampa Bay won the next week to finish 9-7, but missed the playoffs. Oddly enough, had the Bucs beaten the Saints and then lost the next week, they would’ve made the playoffs at 9-7. New Orleans holds a 31-19 lead in the regular season series, including a 14-8 advantage at home.

Where to Watch

Fox will have the game at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Thom Brennaman will carry play-by-play, with Chris Spielman providing color commentary. Jennifer Hale will have reports from the sideline.

Where to Listen

In the Tampa Bay area, fans can listen to the game on 98Rock (97.9 FM). The action will be called by the team of Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (commentary) and T.J. Rives (sideline). For more radio options around Florida, check here. The game will also be on buccaneers.com and the Buccaneers mobile app.

Satellite radio subscribers can hear Tampa Bay’s broadcast on XM Internet 829. New Orleans’ broadcast will be on XM 83.

Next: Buccaneers at Saints: Five Game-Changing Players

For in-game and postgame coverage of Sunday’s game, follow @ThePewterPlank on Twitter.