Whatever the NFL did to make Week 17 games more meaningful, it certainly worked.
The New Orleans Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in a game loaded with playoff implications.
The Saints can win the NFC South with a win Sunday and an Atlanta Falcons loss, which is unlikely, considering the Falcons host the lowly Carolina Panthers. The Saints already clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Falcons in Week 16.
The Buccaneers placed rookie wide receiver Arrelious Benn on injured reserve this week after a knee injury suffered in the Week 16 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Fullback Earnest Graham also suffered a neck injury and is out for Sunday’s game.
Tackle James Lee is listed as probable and will likely start, sending Jeremy Trueblood back to the bench.
Meanwhile, the Saints have some injury issues of their own.
Running back Pierre Thomas, who missed nine games with an ankle injury this season, re-injured the ankle in Friday’s practice and is listed as questionable.
Wide receiver Marques Colston is also questionable after a minor arthroscopic procedure on his knee early in the week. He will likely be ready for the playoffs if he is unable to go Sunday, while Thomas will continue to be evaluated.
Running back Chris Ivory, who has missed two games with hamstring tightness, is listed as probable and will likely start in Thomas’ place.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Out: RB Earnest Graham (neck).
Questionable: WR Sammie Stroughter (hamstring).
Probable: T James Lee (ankle), TE Kellen Winslow (knee).
New Orleans Saints
Questionable: WR Marques Colston (knee), DT Tony Hargrove (knee), TE Jeremy Shockey (groin), TE David Thomas (knee), RB Pierre Thomas (ankle), LB Anthony Waters (ankle).
Probable: DT Remi Ayodele (ankle), DE Alex Brown (shoulder), RB Reggie Bush (chest), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), WR Robert Meachem (toe), DE Jimmy Wilkerson (foot).
The Saints host the Buccaneers Sunday at 1 p.m. EST.
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