Pro Football Talk and ESPN are reporting that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton told Tampa reporters Tuesday he expects to be back on the sidelines after the team's bye week for their Monday night game against the Giants on November 28. That means Payton will "miss" two crucial division games, versus Tampa this Sunday and at Atlanta next week.
"Without" Payton the Saints have been a mixed bag. They throttled Indianapolis at home (yeah we know, Luck Suck disclaimers apply), but lost two games to Tampa and at St. Louis and looked unusually befuddled against the Rams. Sayeth Mike Florio:
After last week’s debacle in the Edward Jones Dome, the absence of his influence during the games and at halftime became obvious. With the team facing adversity early, Payton wasn’t there to push buttons and/or kick butts.
Buttons and butts will likely need all sorts of immediate attention against a Tampa Bay team that's - what's this? - 3-2 against the Saints under head coach Raheem Morris. That's enough for Tampa's local media to declare that Morris/Payton is a battle of coaching wits.
The Saints still lead the NFC South at 5-3, ahead of both the Bucs and Falcons at 4-3 each.