As tough as a pill it was to swallow on Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot of season left and are looking ahead to what this upcoming Sunday has in store.
Hopefully another win is on the horizon, something that even Todd Bowles has acknowledged will go a long way in washing the taste of Week 3’s loss to the Eagles out of everyone’s mouth. A victory on Sunday would send the Bucs into their bye week with a 3-1 record and its first divisional win of the year.
Not for nothing, but it would come at the expense of the New Orleans Saints.
It always feels good to down an NFC South rival, but wins over the Saints just hit different. New Orleans made some pricey moves this offseason to try and snatch control of the division away from Tampa Bay but it’s starting to look like their prized acquisition won’t be factoring into how things go on Sunday.
Is Jameis Winston starting vs. Buccaneers in Week 4?
While the Bucs didn’t play last Sunday, a game in Green Bay had significant impact on where they stand moving forward. The Saints blowing a 17 point lead to the Packers was objectively hilarious, but the loss of Derek Carr to a shoulder injury is no laughing matter.
Carr went down in the third quarter and didn’t return, with x-rays not looking promising in terms of his short term availability. It appears Carr has avoided a season-ending situation, but all signs are pointing toward him not being healthy enough to play on Sunday against the Bucs.
Two things the Saints have done this week seem to suggest they're preparing for Sunday's game as though Carr will not be starting at quarterback.
Perhaps the most significant move was signing Jake Luton to the 53-man roster. Third-string quarterback Jake Heaney is serving a suspension and won’t be available, which means Jameis Winston is the only active and healthy quarterback available.
It’s a move that came after the Saints announced that while Carr didn’t suffer a season-ending injury, it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to return to action.
”Carr is believed to have suffered an AC sprain, source said. After a multitude of tests, there was no additional damage. When he plays will be determined by the swelling and how he gains mobility,” Ian Rapoport reported this week.
That doesn’t seem very promising, and seems to suggest that Winston will once again be the starting quarterback when the Bucs and Saints meet. It will be the fifth time Winston plays against the Bucs since joining New Orleans back in 2020, and is the third time he’ll do so as the starter.
Things could change, but the best long term plan for the Saints — who very well could be 3-1 and solely leading the NFC South after this Sunday — is to rest Carr so he’s able to contribute for a playoff push.