Kickoff: 6:40 p.m. ET
In all likelihood, this is the final game for Drew Brees at the Superdome. Perhaps his last ever appearance, too, if New Orleans cannot survive the rival Bucs.
All indications point to the 42-year-old’s 20th season being his finishing act in the National Football League. And how poetic this potential last scene involves a fellow all-time great, 43-year-old Tom Brady.
It’s the first postseason matchup between two quarterbacks north of 40 in history. Hence why someone out there imagined this airing live on the History channel.
But all jokes aside, how does this third encounter between the Saints and Buccaneers not play out as a classic? When you have such crazy circumstances featuring two of the biggest constants — Brady and Brees — in gambling during our lifetimes, you have to expect greatness.
Brady, of course, is the face of it. Six rings and numerous MVP awards have positioned him as maybe the greatest to ever do it. He added a little bit more to his ‘GOAT’ resume this season by leading Tampa Bay to snap its formerly NFC-leading 12-year playoff drought in just his first year with the franchise. Those who doubted whether Brady can still play at a high level should be feeling pretty dumb.
Certainly no one can doubt his legendary postseason prowess, especially at this specific stage. Brady actually has the most wins by any QB ever in the Divisional Round, being a ridiculous 13-2. Looking beyond his record, he’s posted some fabulous numbers, throwing for 4,380 yards in those games along with 30 touchdowns compared to 11 picks. That would stand as a nice season for anyone.
Overall, there’s just nobody who has been more consistent in the playoffs. Really, he’s still as excellent this time of year as he’s ever been. Going back to 2012, Brady has started 20 postseason games, averaging a whopping 324.2 yards in those contests while guiding his offenses to just about 30 points on average (29.8).
Distinct tendencies help get Tom Terrific to those abnormally high numbers. When it’s playoff time, Brady simply takes over and throws it a ton — 43.7 times, to be exact, throughout this aforementioned 20-game stretch. To put this in perspective, that mark would’ve topped all clubs this year in pass attempts per game.
So, we know win or lose, the Bucs will be taking to the air plenty, and even more so with Ronald Jones out. A case can be made that Brady is armed with the most dangerous wide-out duo (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin) that he’s ever thrown to.
Meanwhile, no matter what game plan the Saints roll out, we can surmise they’re getting to a healthy amount on the scoreboard. Again, this is most likely the last game for Brees within the very offensive-friendly confines of the prestigious Superdome. Do you really think he’s going to disappoint at all?
Like his also-ancient counterpart, Brees is just as sharp now as he’s been at any point in his future Hall-of-Fame career. His most striking consistency seems to take place in the Big Easy, where the Saints once again enjoyed another campaign in which they scored with ease.
Even with Brees missing some time, New Orleans averaged 31.1 points in home games this season, continuing a glaring trend that has illuminated since the former Charger arrived 14 years ago. In the previous four campaigns, spanning 32 games, the Saints registered 33.1 points.
Brees is healthy, looking good since coming back from his ribs and lung injuries last month. He has his full assortment of weapons as well, which actually wasn’t the case for most of 2020. Additionally, Brees fared well against this Bucs defense in the two previous meetings.
All of this points to both Tampa Bay and New Orleans putting up points in bunches. I’m buying a point to have 51 just in case of a 31-20/27-24 (like last week’s half-point victory) type of outcome. Either way, look for both veteran constants to lead the way.
The Bet: OVER 51 (-130)
The Record: 9-8-1, -0.1 unit
Last Week: Colts-Bills Under 51.5 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit