Saints protect winning streak

31 October 2017 17:20:15 GMTPlus11

The second longest current winning streak in the NFL belongs to an unlikely contender, the New Orleans Saints, who welcome in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this week.

The Saints lost the first two weeks of the campaign, but since then have rolled to five in a row to lead the NFC South Division over the Carolina Panthers.

Drew Brees completed 23-of-28 for 299 yards against the Chicago Bears last week as New Orleans eased to a 20-12 triumph. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara each rushed for a score, with Wil Lutz adding a couple of field goals.

New Orleans are now 1.44 to win NFC South, with the Atlanta Falcons 5.00 and the Carolina Panthers 2.62.

While the Saints have broken out above expectations, the Buccaneers have regressed in the eyes of many.

Losers of four in a row to the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills and the Panthers, Tampa Bay could well be without quarterback Jameis Winston, who has not fully practiced the past couple of weeks and will once again be evaluated on Wednesday.

The former Florida State star appears to be playing hurt even as head coach Dirk Koetter dismissed such a notion.

Meanwhile, over in Charlotte the other two teams in the Division, the Panthers and the Falcons, meet at the Bank of America Stadium.

It's the first meeting of the season for the two sides, who meet again in Atlanta the final week of the regular campaign.

After back-to-back defeats to the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears, the Panthers eased past Carolina last week, while the Falcons snapped a three-game skid with a win over the New York Jets.

The last two representatives of the NFC in the Super Bowl, neither the Panthers nor the Falcons have seemed worthy of such consideration so far this season.

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