The Buccaneers (4-11) wrap up their disappointing 2017 season on Sunday afternoon as they host the New Orleans Saints (11-4). Here, we preview the 4:25 p.m. matchup and tell you where to watch and listen to it.
Well, for one final time in 2017, the Buccaneers will take the field in hopes of not disappointing all of their fans. At this point in the season, though, they will disappoint a certain section of their fan base no matter what the final score of the season finale may be. Some will always root for a Tampa Bay win no matter what. Others would rather see a loss because it strengthens the team’s draft position. The Bucs will not be able to win on Sunday (take that to mean whatever you want it to mean).
Tampa Bay is fresh off a brutal 22-19 loss at Carolina on Christmas Eve. The Bucs played hard and almost pulled off an upset win, but fell just short for the second straight week. They had the game won, then the defense failed to get one last stop. Jameis Winston had another effective day, but three fumbles, poor offensive line play and red zone struggles doomed Tampa Bay. The team hasn’t won since Nov. 19, but it looks like head coach Dirk Koetter is sticking around for 2018. On Friday afternoon, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Glazers told the second-year head coach that his job was safe for another year. Of course, the owners can change their mind at any second. But for now, it looks like Koetter is the guy going forward.
The Saints are in a far better position than the Bucs right now. It really isn’t close. Their offense is dynamic and the defense is playing well enough to complement it. Drew Brees is still Drew Brees and he is getting tons of help from the backfield tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. New Orleans has won two straight and can clinch the NFC South with a win over Tampa Bay.
The Bucs haven’t ruled anyone completely out for Sunday’s game, but Robert Ayers (shoulder) and Devante Bond (ankle) are doubtful. Cameron Brate (hip/knee), Chris Godwin (ankle), DeSean Jackson (ankle) and Ryan Russell (shoulder) are questionable. The Saints are without Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion), Trey Hendrickson (ankle) and Terron Armstead (thigh).
Heading into the final week of the regular season, New Orleans ranks in the top five in total offense (second), passing offense (fifth) and rushing offense (fifth). Tampa Bay is eleventh in total offense, fourth in passing and 27th in rushing. Defensively, the Saints are fifteenth overall, eleventh against the pass and sixteenth against the run. The Bucs are 31st in total defense, dead last in pass defense and 24th in run defense.
The last time these two teams met was in week nine. New Orleans came away with a 30-10 home win, as Tampa Bay got its first look at Kamara, who they will have trouble with for years to come. The rookie ran for 68 yards and a touchdown on ten carries while adding six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Winston left the week nine matchup early, which brought Ryan Fitzpatrick in. The Saints own a 32-19 all-time series lead over the Bucs, with a 14-8 advantage on the road. New Orleans holds two straight wins over Tampa Bay, but lost in its last visit to Raymond James Stadium.
Where to Watch
FOX will have the broadcast for Sunday’s season finale. Justin Kutcher (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (color commentary) and Jen Hale (sideline) will have the call.
Where to Listen
For the final time this season, 98Rock (97.9 FM) will have the radio broadcast in the Tampa Bay area. Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (commentary) and T.J. Rives (sideline) will bring all the action. For more radio options around Florida, check here. Fans can also listen to the game on buccaneers.com and the Buccaneers mobile app.
Satellite radio subscribers can hear the Tampa Bay crew on XM 225. New Orleans’ broadcast can be heard on XM Internet 821.
For in-game and postgame coverage of Sunday’s season finale, follow
on Twitter. If you haven’t already, check out this week’s Walking the Plank podcast.