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Game #12 Open Thread: Saints vs. Bucs

The Saints look to duplicate a performance that was easily their finest of the season. According to the Football Outsiders, their team DVOA of 53.7 percent was a full 20 percent better than their next-best performance against Jacksonville. That number is buoyed by the contribution of the defense, which stopped the Panthers to the tune of a negative 39.1 percent defensive rating. This was the third-best defensive performance of the Sean Payton era, trailing only 2006 efforts against Atlanta (week 3) and New York (week 16).

The NFC South basically boils down to today. If the Bucs win, they all but clinch, taking a commanding lead. The Saints don't need to win the division to make the playoffs.

The Saints are favored by three, the usual home-team advantage, meaning that Vegas sees these teams as even. If the Bucs win today the notion will seem silly; if the Saints win we can talk.

Jeff Garcia might play, despite him back injury. The Saints' task would be easier if he sat. It won't be easy, particularly offensively.