Another Must-Win

Interestingly, both teams have the same record and, with a little help, face the same playoff prospects. The Carolina Panthers the weekend with a game against the Atlanta Falcons, and if the Falcons win, the winner of the Saints-Bucs game has a leg up for the final spot in the playoffs.

Sunday: New Orleans Saints (5-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) Game time: 4:05 p.m. FOX-TV When the Buccaneers take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, it will be a meeting of two teams heading in opposite directions. The Bucs have come on strong after an 0-4 start, while the Saints were compared to a high school team after a debacle against Denver two weeks ago. Interestingly, both teams have the same record and, with a little help, face the same playoff prospects. The Carolina Panthers the weekend with a game against the Atlanta Falcons, and if the Falcons win, the winner of the Saints-Bucs game has a leg up for the final spot in the playoffs. The Bucs have been hot at home, winning the last three games without allowing an offensive touchdown. The Saints, on the other hand, may be the NFC's most erratic team. They feature a star running back in Deuce McAllister, and one of the league's bet receivers in Joe Horn, but little else. Coach Jim Haslett has little chance of getting his job back next year unless the team runs the table, and even that might not be enough. Still, there's no way to predict anything with two teams who have been so erratic all season. >br To win, the Bucs will need to make fewer mistakes. Easier said than done, right? Well it hasn't been that easy. The Bucs committed 12 penalties in last week's devastating loss at San Diego, which would look like an aberration if it weren't happening every week. The offensive line has been particularly guilty, with holding and offsides calls keeping the referees busy. Quarterback Brian Griese is putting up big numbers, but he turned the ball over four times last week. The defense, of course, has been the Bucs strong point, but in each of the last two losses – both on the road – the backfield has been torched late in the game and Horn can definitely do that to anyone. Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks is sloppy, but he has one of the strongest arms in the league. The Bucs are back at home next Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in a game that could settle the final spot in the NFC playoffs.

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