Three things can happen on Sunday that would end the year on the absolute highest note possible for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With a win in Week 17 the Bucs can clinch their third-straight NFC South title, punch a playoff ticket, and end the New Orleans Saints season. It's truly a plot twist few experts saw coming this offseason when the Bucs were pegged as a team tanking for a top draft pick while the Saints would breeze through the division.
Remember when Derek Carr was the best quarterback in the NFC South the second the ink dried on his contract? How about when Baker Mayfield and the Bucs were trolled for linking up back in March? Shoes don't get flipped to the other foot harder than they will this Sunday.
It's more than just this weekend's matchup that serves as a reminder of the Bucs domination over their division rivals. For as much as Saints fans and players like to make about how they have the Bucs number, Tampa Bay hasn't lost to New Orleans since 2021 and is 3-0 in the last three meetings.
That's a streak that can continue on Sunday, and if it does it will mean the Saints are down and out one of the absolute worst ways we've seen them in recent years -- and it will be glorious.
Buccaneers vs. Saints start time and location
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm ET at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. That means the Bucs not only have a chance to win the division by beating their hated rivals, but they have a chance to do it in front of a home crowd.
Beating the Saints out of the playoffs at the Superdome has been satisfying in the past, but to see it happen at home is even sweeter. The Bucs clinched the NFC South at home last year but it felt like they were backing into the playoffs rather than convincingly earning a spot. You have to go back to 2005 for the last time the Bucs clinched the division at home, as they managed to win the division in the final week of the season to cap off a 4-1 streak to end the season.
Technically the 2007 season counts but the Bucs lost out to end the season that year, something that likely won't be the case this year. A win over the Saints clinches the division but the hapless Carolina Panthers are all that remain on the scheduled before the playoffs, and a tune-up to keep one of hte hottest teams in the league on fire feels like a perfect way to end a six-game winning streak at the end of the season.
Of course, taking care of business on Sunday against the Saints is the first neccessary step.
How to watch Buccaneers vs. Saints Week 17
For the first time since Week 11 the Buccaneers are back on FOX. This entire four game winning streak has all happened in games that have been broadcast on CBS, including the classic NFC matchup of Bucs-Packers a few weeks ago.
One streak is ending but hopefully not both. Bucs fans can just consider it a swap, as the broadcasting streak ending can be replaced by Tampa Bay keeping its winning streak over the Saints alive as well.
Here's everything you need to know to catch the game:
- Date: Sunday, December 31st
- Start Time: 1 pm ET
- Location: Raymond James Stadium | Tampa Bay, FL
- TV Channel: FOX
- Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen
- Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket | Fubo
Not only is the game back on FOX, but the network's top announcing crew will be on hand for the action. It's a Fox Game of the Week in the early window, something that is happening because of the weird New Year's Eve scheduling the league needed to hand out.
Usually the College Football Playoff semifinal games are aired on New Year's Eve, but those were moved to Monday as to not conflict with a full slate of NFL action. ESPN won't be airing a Monday Night Football game as a result, with the Cowboys-Lions game instead being moved to Saturday. CBS has a doubleheader scheduled for Sunday which means the Bucs-Saints game can't get flexed into a nationally televised slot even if the league wanted to move the game out of the early slate.
All of that is a long way of saying hopefully the Bucs take care of business early in the day and extend the New Year's Even celebration even longer.
Buccaneers injury report for Week 17 vs. Saints
While the Bucs were fully healthy last week, giving us a glimpse of a full operational Death Star lineup, the team might not be so lucky against the Saints.
Carlton Davis was in concussion protocol all week and did not practice, making his status for Sunday a bit dicey. Rachaad White gave everyone a scare earlier in the week when he was seen without his helmet on at practice, but it turned out to be nothing major that will keep him out of action.
Shaq Barrett is another name to keep an eye on, but if he's unable to go it might mean more out of rookie Yaya Diaby and another opportunity for him to shine.
How to listen to Buccaneers vs. Saints game
The only thing sweeter than watching the Bucs clinch the NFC South with a win over the Saints is listening to the sweet sound of Gene Deckerhoff calling the game on Buccaneers Radio. Tune into WXTB 97.9 FM in the Tampa area to hear that broadcast, or check out more radio affiliates here.