One of the biggest games on the NFC South schedule so far this season will happen on Sunday at the Superdome. Both the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will meet with a chance to take control of the division on the line, and already injuries are playing a major factor in how things might go.
The Bucs are missing key players like Jamel Dean and Calijah Kancey, both of whom are 'probably out', according to head coach Todd Bowles. Carlton Davis was a full participant in practice on Friday but he hasn't played since Week 1's win over the Vikings thanks to turf toe.
Davis looks like he's going to play, and a late-week scare involving Vita Vea seems like it won't impact his status for Sunday either. Both of these are positive updates for the Bucs, but the good injury news seems to have broken both ways.
The Saints lost starting quarterback Derek Carr to a shoulder injury in Week 3 shortly before losing a 17 point lead and the game to Green Bay. It's a loss that has aged incredibly poorly after the Packers abysmal peformance on Thursday night, but fans were quick to point out how fortunes shifted after Carr was taken out of hte equation.
Carr's initial diagnosis was a shoulder injury that threatened to keep him out for a few weeks, but already it's looking like he is on track for a miracuous recovery.
Latest Derek Carr injury update: 'Very real shot' QB plays vs. Bucs in Week 4
After a week of everyone assuming Jameis Winston would be starting against the Bucs on Sunday, Saints beat writer Nick Underhill gave what can only be described as a Reverse Uno card update.
Well, it can also be described as an indication that Carr will play. According to Underhill, Carr has a 'very real shot' at starting for the Saints on Sunday.
On a human level, it's great to see that Carr has seemingly bounced back from what looked like a serious injury. On a football level, this is a bad break for the Bucs who appeared to be on track to face Jameis Winston -- a factor that significantly shifted things back in their favor.
It almost goes without saying that the ideal matchup for Tampa Bay is against Jameis Winston, not because of scheme or anything techincaly but because we all know what type of quarterback he is. Bucs fans know better than anyone the razor's edge you live on when Jameis is starting, something that oftentimes involves plunging into the abyss of a loss.
New Orleans is paying Carr $150 million to win in situations like the one against Tampa Bay. Sunday isn't just a rivalry game, it's for postseason currency that could get cashed when tickets get punched in December and the Saints need Carr to be the guy they brought him in to be.
It sounds like barring some setback, he'll have a chance to do exactly that on Sunday.