Tom Brady and Drew Brees could change places yet again as the top two touchdown passers in NFL history.
The host Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints could change places atop the NFC South standings.
Much will be at stake when the two most prolific active quarterbacks in the NFL lead their respective teams against each other Sunday night in Tampa.
Brady and the Buccaneers (6-2) lead the South by a half-game over Brees and the Saints (5-2), who prevailed 34-23 when these teams met in the season opener.
Both quarterbacks had two touchdown passes last week, leaving Brady with 561 for his career, one more than Brees. The Saints quarterback had leapfrogged Brady on the all-time list last Sunday with a pair of scoring passes at Chicago.
The two future Hall of Famers could trade places multiple times Sunday night and beyond.
“I’d say it’s pretty cool,” Brees said. “I’m just laser-focused on the job that is right in front of me and the opportunity that we have this week. Winning the football game is the most important thing, and however we can get that done.
“We both play on very good teams for very good organizations, with great coaches and great systems, great players around us. (I’m) just grateful for the opportunity to compete, grateful that we’re in the situation where we’re battling to win the division.”
The Saints intercepted Brady twice and sacked him three times in the opener.
“I think we did some things well, we got the turnovers,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton said. “I didn’t think we played very well in some other areas when you watch the tape. They’re playing with confidence.”
New Orleans has won four consecutive games and Tampa Bay has won three in a row. The Saints have won their last four meetings against the Buccaneers.
Since the opener, Brady has completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,950 yards and 18 touchdowns with two interceptions. He has rushed for one touchdown in that span.
The Buccaneers activated wide receiver Antonio Brown from the suspended list earlier in the week. They signed the former Steeler, Raider and Patriot on Oct. 27.
“He’ll have his role,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “It could be 10 plays, it could be 35 plays. I wouldn’t anticipate 60 plays, for sure, but we’ll just see how it goes.”
Arians said Brown was “full speed” in his first workout with his new team.
“Everybody else was walking, but he was going full speed — that’s him anyway,” Arians said. “Guys were helping him (and) he’s got a really good handle on what we’re trying to get done ‘formationally’ and everything. It was great interaction with all the guys and it was a good start to the week.”
Tampa Bay also has plenty of receivers with Pro Bowlers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who was limited in practice Wednesday because of a finger injury, as well as tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“I’ve been taking care of myself off the field,” Brown said. “I pride myself on being the guy who is staying in high condition and being physically fit. I spend a year and a half working out in parks and not being able to get a lot of reward. Just grateful to be in the position where I can work out and get the opportunity to play in the game and get some rewards.”
Saints All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas hasn’t played since the first meeting with Tampa Bay because of ankle and hamstring injuries. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.
Running back Alvin Kamara was limited in practice because of a foot injury suffered in a win at Chicago last week, but he said he will play against the Buccaneers.
–Field Level Media