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W2W4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. – Five things to watch in Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints:

  • The race for the No. 1 pick. It’s pretty simple. If the Bucs lose, they’ll have the top pick in the 2015 draft. No NFL team ever is going to try to lose on purpose. But there is a large portion of Tampa Bay fans that won’t be rooting for a win and hoping the Bucs end up with Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston.

  • The 1,000-yard club. Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans needs three yards to reach 1,000 receiving yards on the season. Teammate Vincent Jackson needs nine yards to do the same thing. If they both get there, they’ll be the first pair of Tampa Bay receivers to have 1,000 yards in the same season. If Jackson makes it, he’ll have three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, which would tie the franchise record held by Joey Galloway.

  • Tampa Bay’s defense. Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith has talked a lot about how the defense has improved the second half of the season. But going up against the league’s top-ranked offense will provide a measuring stick on how far this defense, which is ranked No. 26 overall, has come.

  • Kevin Pamphile. The rookie offensive tackle has played very sparingly. That could change in this game because the Bucs would like to get an extended look at Pamphile in a game situation. He could end up taking away some playing time from Oniel Cousins at right tackle.

  • The home-field disadvantage. The Bucs are 0-7 at home this season. They have a chance to go winless at home for the first time since the franchise’s expansion season, 1976. The Bucs have been particularly inept on offense at home this season. The Bucs have scored 17 or fewer points in every home game this season and are averaging just 13.4 points at home.