The big news on Sunday wasn’t that New Orleans lost to the Rams in Los Angeles, 27-9. It’s that the Saints lost future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees for at least six weeks with a thumb injury that will require surgery.
That means the Bucs will be facing backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater when Tampa Bay travels to New Orleans in Week 5 – with a mix of third-string running QB Taysom Hill thrown in to try to keep the Bucs defense off balance. Bridgewater was 17-of-35 (56.7 percent) for 165 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in Sunday’s loss at Los Angeles.
In an NFC South division that has 1-1 Tampa Bay atop the division thanks to Thursday night’s win at Carolina – with New Orleans and Atlanta also 1-1 – the loss of Brees could remove the Saints from front-runner status for the time being. New Orleans travels to Seattle next week and then hosts 2-0 Dallas followed by Tampa Bay.
It’s not inconceivable that the Saints lose their next two games without Brees and could be 1-3 by the time the Bucs come to town. Tampa Bay has won two of the last four games in New Orleans, including a 48-40 upset last year in Week 1.
Some suggest that six weeks is a very optimistic timetable regarding Brees’ return to action. It could in fact be a few weeks longer because it is his right thumb on his throwing hand. After a bye week in Week 9, New Orleans has four straight NFC South contests beginning at home against Atlanta, followed by a game at Tampa Bay in Week 11, a home game the following week against Carolina and then a road game at Atlanta in Week 13. The Saints will want – and perhaps need – Brees back in action for that divisional run.
Meanwhile, the Bucs host the 0-2 New York Giants on Sunday, and if Tampa Bay can win and improve to 2-1, even a loss the next week at Los Angeles against the Rams keeps them at .500 heading into New Orleans the following Sunday. Should the Bucs prevail against the Saints without Brees, Tampa Bay would then be 3-2 in this scenario heading to London to take on Carolina, which desperately needs a win this Sunday at Arizona to avoid a 0-3 start.
But first, the Bucs must take of business against a reeling Giants team that lost in the season opener at Dallas,35-17, and lost at home to Buffalo, 28-14, on Sunday.