TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has a message for his followers on social media after each win. When the Bucs beat Washington on Saturday night, Brady said on Instagram: “Round two next. Who do you guys want us to play? I think I know. Let’s go!”
Brady may have gotten his wish when the New Orleans Saints beat the Bears in Sunday’s Wild Card game.
Tampa Bay will travel to New Orleans for this Sunday’s NFC Divisional Round playoff game. It’s also round three between Brady and Saints quarterback Drew Brees — marking the first time two quarterbacks in their 40’s will meet in the postseason.
“The minute he signed with the Bucs and came to the division, you felt like that was going to be a team to contend with,” Brees said Sunday night. “That’s going to be a team with playoff aspirations and beyond. Just like us. So, I guess it was inevitable.”
The Bucs lost this season’s opener at New Orleans 34-23 in Brady’s Tampa Bay debut. The Bucs were then embarrassed 38-3 in November’s rematch at Raymond James Stadium.
“I think it depends when you play them,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “If it’s September and October, a lot of things change in a season. Players are in, players are out, injuries, all those types of things. The familiarity with the players – Marshon Lattimore knows Mike Evans – who’s going to win that battle? Same thing [with] Tristan Wirfs and Cam Jordan – it comes down to one-on-one battles of guys who know each other. Who’s going to make those game-changing plays in this game?”
The Bucs will have two key players return on defense for this game. Linebacker Devin White and defensive end Steve McLendon were reinstated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. White’s return could help Tampa Bay generate an inside pass rush against Brees.
“You would hope so,” Arians said. “But again, the ball comes out of [Drew Brees’] hand so quickly – it’s hard. You can get your hands up and maybe bat some balls around, but I thought the Bears did a really good job of containing him other than that first drive where they played all that zone. They’ve got so many weapons, and he knows where that ball is going by the time that back foot hits, so if you’re going to get to him, you better get in there free.”
However, Tampa Bay guard Alex Cappa, who started all 17 games, is out with a fractured ankle.
Sunday’s game kicks off at 6:40 p.m. ET.