With the NFC’s No. 5 seed and No. 6 seed winning on Saturday, there’s a chance for a clean sweep by the road teams, if the Bears upend the Saints today.
And if that happens, the Buccaneers will be hosting a game in the divisional round.
A Chicago win would send the Bears to Green Bay and the Rams to Tampa Bay next weekend. A New Orleans win means that it will be Rams at Packers and Buccaneers at Saints.
New Orleans beat the Buccaneers in Week One; eight weeks later, the Saints splattered the Bucs in their own building, 38-3.
So does Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians have a preference?
“It doesn’t matter,” Arians told reporters. “We’re playing — that’s all that matters. We’re a better football team than the last time we played the Saints — if we go there. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Reminded that a Bears win today gives the Bucs a home game, Arians pivoted.
“That part I’ll root for,” Arians said. “I will root for that.”
He should root for that. Apart from getting the home game, the Bucs should hope to avoid the Saints. Whether the Buccaneers are better or not than they were earlier this year, the Saints have had Tampa Bay’s number. It’s far better to stay home for a game against the Rams and then, with a victory, head to Lambeau Field for a berth in the Super Bowl.
Or, even better, hope the Bears beat the Packers. That would let Tampa Bay host the NFC Championship.