NFL

Bucs out to end Saints streak, Texans in danger of making franchise history

By Sports Desk October 29, 2021

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into Week 8 with a 6-1 record, though their form will be tested against the New Orleans Saints.

Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and 211 yards in the Bucs' 38-3 thrashing of the Chicago Bears last week, though Tampa Bay's recent record against the Saints is poor.

The Los Angeles Rams are also 6-1, and are looking to extend their strong start when they take on the Houston Texans, who are out to avoid a franchise first.

Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase, meanwhile, have been linking up to superb effect for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are at the New York Jets on Sunday. 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Tampa Bay may have picked up from where they left off last season, but their recent run against New Orleans has not been at all profitable.

New Orleans have won five straight games against NFC South rivals Tampa Bay, which is the longest active losing streak for the Buccaneers against any single opponent.

However, the Bucs did set franchise records for points in a first quarter with 21, and points in a first half with 35, in their 38-3 win over the Bears. The 21 first-quarter and 35 first-half points are also the most scored by any NFL team this season.

Mike Evans caught three touchdowns against the Bears with all of them coming in the first half. He joined Marvin Harrison, Marvin Jones Jr, Jerry Rice, and Sterling Sharpe as the only players since the merger to have multiple games with three first-half touchdown catches.

The Saints beat the Seattle Seahawks in their last outing, and had 35 passing attempts in that win. Both teams have combined to win 76.9 per cent of their games this season, the highest combined winning percentage that the teams have ever had when facing each other.

Los Angeles Rams (6-1) @ Houston Texans (1-6)

This will be only the fifth all-time meeting between the Texans and the Rams, and just the second game since the latter moved back to Los Angeles.

The Rams have outscored the Texans by an aggregate of 71-20 over the last two meetings, and, at 6-1, Los Angeles are enjoying their equal second-best start to a season this century, behind the 7-0 run in 2018.

They are also looking to win each of their first four road games of a season for the fourth time since 2000, having also done this in 2001, 2017 and 2018.

Matthew Stafford has thrown for 2,172 yards this season, the most by any Rams player in the team's first seven games of the season since Kurt Warner threw for 2,445 yards in the first seven games of 2000.

Houston, meanwhile, have lost six straight, with each of the last two losses coming by over 25 points. The Texans have not lost three straight games by at least 25 points in franchise history – the only team to do so in a single season in the last 25 years were the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) @ New York Jets (1-5)

The Bengals have won each of the last three meetings between these teams, matching their longest-ever win streak over the Jets (1973-81). Cincinnati's 23-22 win in New York in 2016 snapped a nine-game losing streak when visiting the Jets.

Cincinnati only managed four wins in 2020, but they surpassed that figure with a brilliant 41-17 victory in Baltimore last week, with quarterback Burrow and wide receiver Chase turning in stellar performances.

Burrow passed for a career-high 416 yards and tied a previous career high with three touchdown passes. It was his seventh consecutive game with multiple TD passes, tying a franchise record set twice before by Carson Palmer (2004-05 and 2010).

Chase, meanwhile, had 201 receiving yards, the most all-time by a Bengals rookie and the most by any rookie since Mike Evans had 209 in 2014. Chase's 754 receiving yards in 2021 ranks are the most by any player through seven career games in NFL history.

The Jets' 54-13 loss to the Patriots last week was their largest defeat since a 45-3 loss in Week 13 of the 2010 season, which also happened in New England. The 54 points are the fourth-most that New York have allowed in a single game and the most since 1980.

Elsewhere...

The Detroit Lions are still winless, going 0-7 so far, but could snap the losing streak against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions have won three straight against Philadelphia, with each of the last two games being decided by three points or fewer. 

Strugglers the Miami Dolphins travel to Buffalo. With two receiving yards on Sunday, Stefon Diggs will reach 2,000 as a Bill in just his 23rd game with the team. That would be tied for the second fewest games needed by any player with any single team in the Super Bowl era (Odell Beckham Jr. – 21 with the Giants, Vincent Jackson – 23 with Tampa Bay, Brandon Marshall – 23 with Chicago).

Fresh from their win over the Jets, the Patriots will aim to maintain the momentum against the Los Angeles Chargers, against whom they have five straight wins and are 16-3 in the last 19 meetings.

An AFC North clash sees the Browns (4-3) host the 3-3 Steelers. Pittsburgh have not won in Cleveland since 2017, as the teams tied in 2018 before the Browns won in 2019 and 2020.

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    Bayern followed up Friday's 4-0 Bundesliga thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen with an even more emphatic victory in Tuesday's Champions League tie with Czech champions Plzen.

    It marks the first time the Bavarians have won back-to-back matches in all competitions since August, having gone four league games without a win prior to the international break.

    Nagelsmann is pleased with what he saw from his side against Plzen, with Bayern returning to form at just the right time ahead of Saturday's Klassiker showdown with fierce rivals Dortmund.

    "The boys did well today," Nagelsmann told DAZN. "That's how you have to approach a game. We decided it quickly then controlled it. 

    "With a view to Saturday, that was important, serious and well deserved. It was another game that shows we are taking steps in the right direction."

    The hosts were three goals up inside 21 minutes, with Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mane netting after Leroy Sane had opened the scoring at the Allianz Arena.

    Sane doubled his tally early in the second half before substitute Eric Choupo-Moting rounded off the scoring for the leaders in a one-sided Group C contest.

    It is the 26th time Bayern have scored five or more goals in a Champions League match, which is five more than next-best Barcelona.

    Mane wasted some promising chances to add to the scoring, netting from just one of his six attempts, but the forward was happy with his side's performance.

    "The team played a great game, with a lot of chances created," he said. "We deserved to win. 

    "The past few weeks have been tough. It was important we reacted. We reacted well after the international break. Hopefully we can continue like this until the end of the season.

    "We have nine points from three Champions League games and a good goal difference. We are in a good place. 

    "We were disciplined today. We were well prepared for the opponent and that's where most of the goals came from."

    Bayern have now gone 31 games without defeat in the group stage of the Champions League, overtaking the record of 30 set by Real Madrid in 2017.

    "We rightly received criticism during the international break," said Leon Goretzka, who set up two of the goals against Plzen.

    "We used the time well and focused on our game again. Our aim is to perform on a regular basis. We're still extremely upset about the games before that."

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    Leroy Sane scored twice in an emphatic 5-0 win against Viktoria Plzen as Bayern Munich made it a record 31 Champions League group games without defeat.

    Reigning Czech champions Viktoria are without a point at the midway stage in Group C and found themselves three goals down after 21 minutes at the Allianz Arena.

    Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mane netted after Sane had opened the scoring in Tuesday's contest as Bayern cruised towards a third win out of three in this season's competition.

    Sane's second was swiftly followed by a strike from substitute Eric Choupo-Moting, with Bayern settling for five goals ahead of their big Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund.

    Bayern were without Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich, who tested positive for COVID-19, but were ahead inside seven minutes thanks to Sane's powerful shot from 18 yards.

    Gnabry, fielded through the centre of Bayern's attack, slotted home a second six minutes later with a clinical finish after being played in by Leon Goretzka at the end of a counter.

    Some poor Plzen defending allowed Mane to waltz through and score a third for Bayern, who had a Jamal Musiala goal ruled out before half-time due to an offside infringement.

    Sane doubled his tally after controlling Mane's pass with a sublime first touch and firing past Marian Tvrdon, with that proving to be his final meaningful act before being replaced.

    It was left to Choupo-Moting to round off the scoring prior to the hour mark with a shot that went in off the post following another precise pass from Goretzka. 

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    Rilee Rossouw took the India attack apart with a stunning 48-ball century as South Africa secured a consolation 49-win Twenty20 International run victory.

    After a pair of ducks in the opening two matches, Rossouw cracked 100 not out on Tuesday as the Proteas rattled to 227-3, before limiting the hosts to 178 all out at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.

    India, armed with a 2-0 lead, were seeking to seal a series sweep ahead of three ODIs, but they did not threaten to get near South Africa's total.

    South Africa opener Quinton de Kock made 68 from 43 deliveries and shared in a second-wicket stand of 90 with Rossouw, before the latter cut loose, with eight sixes in his maiden T20I ton.

    India suffered a wretched start to their reply as they lost Rohit Sharma (0) and Shreyas Iyer (1) inside 10 balls.

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    India were seven wickets down by the time they got halfway to their target and a late flurry from the hosts serving essentially as crowd-pleasing batting practice. Lungi Ngidi took 2-51, in the process becoming the sixth South African bowler to reach 50 T20I wickets.

    Dwaine Pretorius claimed 3-26 as the tourists finished the series on a high note.

    Curious life of Rilee 

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    A word, too, for De Kock, who passed the 2,000-run mark in T20Is, becoming the second player, after David Miller, to achieve that feat for the Proteas.

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