In Sunday’s 27-13 win over the Niners, QB Drew Brees went down after a pretty gruesome hit. He left the game at halftime and didn’t return. Jameis Winston stepped in at QB and got the job done, mostly thanks to the athleticism and allusiveness of RB Alvin Kamara. Shortly after the game, the news broke that Brees had two broken ribs on the right side, 2-3 more on the left side, and a collapsed lung.
If you know Drew, you know that he likes to avoid talking about injuries and plays through all that he can. This time, he will have no choice but to sit out for at least a few weeks, which means Winston will be the starter for the foreseeable future in New Orleans. The race for the division just officially became interesting going down the stretch.
A similar situation happened last year in New Orleans when Brees missed time with a hand injury. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater stepped in and lead the team on a 5-0 run. While Brees eventually stepped back into the starting role, this ended up getting Bridgwater a starting job in Carolina this season; basically, putting his career back on track. The same thing could happen for Jameis Winston if he plays well enough while Brees is out.
The next three games for the Saints are vs the Falcons, @ the Broncos, and @ the Falcons. Despite Brees missing time, they have a very good chance to go 3-0 in these next three games. They already have two wins over the Bucs, so the pressure is all on them to close these games out and take the division title to have a home game in the postseason.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers must be looking at this with a breath of fresh air. They are 0-2 vs the Saints this season, including a very embarrassing loss of 31-3 in a game that was arguably the worst performance of Tom Brady’s career; however, they are 7-1 vs the rest of the league. The Saints sit at a 7-2 record and are a half-game up on Tampa in the NFC South. If the Saints do indeed struggle under Winston, the Bucs need to take advantage of this opportunity in a major way. This has an extremely huge impact on the division race, and whoever comes out on top will have a home playoff game, which could make the clear difference in a win or loss, especially if the Bucs and Saints meet for a third time this season. Winston has the chance to resurrect his career in a major way.
Brees is usually a warrior when it comes to battling tough injuries. There is also a lot of speculation that this will be the last season of his career, and with the brutal injuries he just suffered, this may indeed be his last year. I don’t doubt that Brees will be back this season, but his health obviously comes first, especially at his age. There’s a very good chance that both of these teams are in the postseason, but what seed they land at is equally as important. Tampa Bay looked completely deflated after that bad loss to the Saints, but they may have just caught the biggest break out of any team in the league with Brees going down for at least the next month or so. It will be very interesting to see which team takes advantage of this situation.