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Saints vs Bucs Preview

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    <span style="">                 <span style="">SAINTS HOST BUCCANEERS SEEKING TO CLINCH NFC'S TOP POSTSEASON SEED </span>                 

The New Orleans Saints (13-1) will seek to rebound from their first loss of the season when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) on Sunday at the Louisiana Superdome. The contest will be televised regionally by FOX with kickoff scheduled for noon (CT).

The contest has important postseason implications for the Saints. New Orleans can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC and homefield advantage for the playoffs for the first time in club history with a win. With a 6-1 record in games played at the Superdome in 2009, the Saints will also be seeking to win seven games at home for the first time. Tampa Bay will be seeking to play the role of spoiler, coming off of one of their most impressive performances of the season, a 24-7 win at Seattle on Sunday.

The Saints will seek to return to the win column after the Dallas Cowboys put the first blemish on their record in a 24-17 contest on Saturday at the Superdome. Sunday's contest will be the first of two NFC South match-ups to close the 2009 regular season.

The Saints and Buccaneers have met 35 times with New Orleans holding a 21-14 advantage in the series, the club's best winning percentage (.600) vs. an NFL opponent. The Saints have a 12-7 record in contests played at the Superdome and a 4-3 mark against their divisional rival since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006. In the first meeting between the clubs this season on Nov. 22, the Saints defeated the Buccaneers 38-7 at Raymond James Stadium.

After initially falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter of the contest and trailing 24-3 going into the game's final period, the Saints stormed back against the Cowboys on Saturday with two fourth quarter touchdowns, to pull within seven points with the ball in their possession late in the game near midfield.

With a seven-yard touchdown pass to WR Lance Moore to put the Saints within a touchdown in the fourth quarter, QB Drew Brees became the club's all-time leader with 121 scoring throws. With 33 touchdown passes in 2009, he needs two more to surpass his career-high and franchise mark he broke in 2008. Brees also surpassed the 4,000-yard passing mark for the season on Saturday against the Cowboys and became only the second quarterback in NFL history with four consecutive 4,000-yard campaigns.

DE Will Smith recording two sacks in the contest. Smith now has a career-high 12 quarterback takedowns on the season, currently the third-highest total in the NFL and the most by a Saint since the 2001 season.

LB Jonathan Vilma had a standout effort with a season-high 15 tackles (11 solo), one sack and one pass defense. Vilma is the club's leading tackler with 120 stops (95 solo) and has added two sacks and three interceptions.

IN THE NFC SOUTH THIS WEEK: The Atlanta Falcons(7-7) host the Buffalo Bills (5- 9) and the Carolina Panthers (6-8) are at the New York Giants (8-6).

WORTH NOTING: A New Orleans win on Sunday or a Minnesota loss on Monday would give the Saints the NFC's No. 1 seed and homefield advantage for the postseason for the first time in club history...New Orleans ranks first in the NFL in offense, fifth rushing and third passing the ball...New Orleans is ranked 21st defensively, 18th against the run and 25th versus the pass The Buccaneeers are ranked 29th offensively, 23rd rushing and 25th passing...Tampa Bay is ranked 25th defensively, 30th against the run and eighth vs. the pass...The game will be regionally televised on FOX (WVUE-FOX 8 in the New Orleans area) with Kenny Albert handling play-by-play, Daryl Johnston serving as color analyst and Tony Siragusa as the sideline reporter...The game can heard regionally on the Saints Radio Network (870 AM or 105.3 FM locally) with Jim Henderson handling play-by- play, Hokie Gajan serving as color analyst and Kristian Garic reporting from the Saints sidelines...A Spanish language broadcast can be heard on WFNO 830 AM with Emilio Peralta handling play-by-play and Marco Garcia serving as color analyst.

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