Saints Clinch Back-to-Back NFC South Titles with 28-14 Win vs. Buccaneers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2018

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws a pass before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Jason Behnken/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints are the kings of the NFC South.

Drew Brees and Co. clinched a division title for the second consecutive year Sunday with a 28-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans moved to 11-2 on the season and avenged its Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay in the process.

It appeared as if the Buccaneers were going to beat the Saints again when they took a 14-3 lead into halftime, but Brees threw for a touchdown and ran for a touchdown to spearhead a second-half comeback.

The question now is whether the Saints will clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff race and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Winning against this powerhouse is a daunting enough task for the rest of the teams in the league without having to worry about doing so in front of the raucous fans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

New Orleans is one game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the loss column in the battle for that top seed, though it has the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to its Week 9 victory.

The Saints did not have home-field advantage in the divisional round of last season's playoffs and lost a heartbreaker to the Minnesota Vikings on the final play of the game.

If the NFC South champions are going to win the Super Bowl for the second time of the Brees era, it will start on the offensive end. They entered Sunday's action tied for second in the league in points per game and have a dynamic backfield combination in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara and one of the best receivers in the league in Michael Thomas.

Thomas put his name in the history books as his team clinched the division Sunday:

It isn't all offense, as Cameron Jordan anchors the pass rush, and Marshon Lattimore leads the secondary on the defensive side. Jordan had two sacks against the Buccaneers, while Lattimore intercepted Jameis Winston's final pass of the afternoon.

The Saints finish the regular season with two matchups against the Carolina Panthers and one against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They may have to win them all to catch the Rams and turn their division-winning season into a conference-winning one.

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