New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees said he is pondering retirement after Sunday's playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while head coach Sean Payton was tight-lipped over the veteran's NFL future.

Brees and New Orleans' season came to an end following a 30-20 defeat against Tom Brady's Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round.

All eyes were on Brees after reports emerged pre-game claiming the 42-year-old quarterback will retire at the end of the campaign.

Brees struggled at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Super Bowl champion threw three interceptions – including two in the fourth quarter – while completing 19 of 34 passes for one touchdown.

"I'm gonna give myself an opportunity to think about the season, think about a lot of things, just like I did last year and make a decision," Brees told reporters when asked if he had played his final game.

Brees almost retired at the end of last season but returned for a 20th campaign in 2020, something the 13-time Pro Bowler does not regret.

"I would never regret it. Never," Brees, who was emotional as he left the field, said. "No complaints. No regrets. I've always tried to play this game with great respect and a great reverence for it, and I appreciate all that this game has given to me.

"There are obviously so many incredible memories, so many incredible relationships that have come as a result of playing in this game, and you find out so much about yourself, and you fight through so much when you play this game.

"And I would say this season, I probably had to fight through more than I've ever had to in any other season in my career, from injury to all the COVID stuff to just crazy circumstances, and it was worth every moment of it. Absolutely."

Saints boss Payton added: "I think that's probably for another press conference. And I can't speak for Drew.

"Obviously, I would take up all of my time on your question tonight. ... Obviously, he's been tremendous for this team, this city, I could go on and on. But let's wait and answer that at the right time."

Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into their first NFC Championship Game since 2003 with a 30-20 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Brady, 43, and Drew Brees, 42, were below their best in the highly anticipated NFC Divisional Round clash, but the Buccaneers got the job done late at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.

The Buccaneers scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, with Brady's rushing touchdown capping the win and setting up a clash against the Green Bay Packers.

Brady went 18 of 33 for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while Brees threw three interceptions – including two in the fourth quarter – while completing 19 of 34 passes for one TD.

The Saints' four turnovers proved costly as the Buccaneers moved into the NFC Championship Game.

Trailing 6-3, the first touchdown of the game saw Brady find Mike Evans after Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepted Brees.

The Saints' response came through Jameis Winston, who threw a 56-yard TD pass to Tre'Quan Smith, and the teams were level at 13-13 at half-time.

Brees and Brady traded TD passes in the third quarter to Smith and Leonard Fournette respectively, keeping the game level with a quarter to play.

Ryan Succop's 36-yard field goal put the Buccaneers 23-20 up and Devin White intercepted Brees to give Tampa Bay another chance, which Brady took.

 

Turning point – White steps up with well-timed interception

Brees and the Saints were looking to respond to Succop's fourth-quarter field goal, but instead gifted Tampa Bay an opportunity to extend their three-point lead as White intercepted the QB.

The Buccaneers made no mistake, and it was Brady rushing over from one yard to give his team a decisive 30-20 lead.

Brady gets it done again in Divisional Round

The Buccaneers' win saw Brady improve his record in the Divisional Round to 14-2.

The six-time Super Bowl champion may have been below his absolute best, but he still got it done, putting the Buccaneers into the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2003.

What's next?

Brady and the Buccaneers face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field on January 24.

For the Saints, meanwhile, there is plenty of talk about Brees' future amid reports the quarterback is set to retire.

The Wild Card Round was, well, wild.

The Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns ended long postseason droughts, while the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens impressed as they produced upset results on the road.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady made sure the Tampa Bay Buccaneers progressed, securing a showdown with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints that will be an all-NFC South battle between starting quarterbacks with a combined age is 85.

As for the Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl champions - along with NFC top seeds the Green Bay Packers - prepare to return to action after a well-earned bye week.

A four-game schedule has all the potential for another bumper weekend of NFL action, with fans watching on to found out who will be the final four left standing in the playoffs.

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers - Saturday, 4.35pm (all times Eastern)

- The Rams are the only current NFC team with an all-time winning record against the Packers (46-45-2), but they have lost five of the previous six and 11 of the past 15 meetings. Green Bay, meanwhile, earned the No.1 seed in the conference for just the third time in their history.

- Aaron Rodgers posted the second-highest passer rating in NFL history this season (121.5), trailing only his own 122.5 in 2011, when he was voted the league's MVP. Rodgers had six games with four or more touchdown passes and zero interceptions, tying the most in a season all-time (Peyton Manning in 2013). In Rodgers' playoff career, the Packers are 8-1 when he does not throw an interception - but 2-7 when he does.

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills - Saturday, 8.15pm

- Baltimore (191.9) and Tennessee (168.1) finished first and second in the NFL in rushing yards per game in the regular season, but the Ravens out-rushed the Titans 236-51 last week to progress. Lamar Jackson ran for 136 of them, the third most ever by a quarterback in a playoff game.

- Josh Allen completed 26 of 35 passes in the Wild Card win over the Indianapolis Colts (74.0 per cent), the highest completion percentage by a Bills starting QB in a playoff game. Allen also became the fifth player in NFL history with a passing TD, a rushing TD and a receiving TD in the playoffs, joining Freeman McNeil, Kordell Stewart, Julian Edelman and Nick Foles.

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs - Sunday, 3.05pm

- This is the first postseason game between the teams. The Chiefs have won the past three meetings, most recently on November 4, 2018 (37-21). In fact, Cleveland have not beaten Kansas City since December 2012, while they have triumphed at Arrowhead only once in the past 32 seasons (December 2009).

- Against the Steelers, Baker Mayfield became the seventh player in league history to throw at least three TD passes without an interception in his postseason debut. Only one other player has done this in the previous 15 years (Alex Smith in 2011). He goes up against Patrick Mahomes, who has accounted for 16 total touchdowns – 13 TD passes and three rushing scores – in five postseason outings.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints - Sunday, 6.40pm

- This will be the 59th all-time meeting of these franchises, albeit the first in the postseason. The Saints have won five straight in the rivalry, outscoring the Bucs by a combined 165-81 during that streak.

- Brady's two touchdown passes against the Washington Football Team moved his career postseason total to 75, while the victory was his 31st in 42 career playoff starts. In the entire NFL, only five teams have as many as 31 postseason wins in their history. Brady (341) and Saints QB Brees (303) rank first and third respectively in career starts among quarterbacks, regular season and playoffs combined.

Tom Brady spoke of his respect for Drew Brees ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' playoff clash against the New Orleans Saints.

Brady, 43, and Brees, 42, meet in the NFC Divisional Round at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.

The Buccaneers quarterback said he had plenty of respect for former Super Bowl winner Brees, who made his debut in 2001 – a year after Brady.

"He's a lot younger than me – he's 18 months younger than me – 18 months ago I felt pretty good, so I've got a little advanced age on him – and experience," Brady told a news conference.

"I'm hanging in there. He's had a terrific year. He's a great player – I've known him for a long time. I've always had a great amount of respect for him going all the way back to his Purdue days. My room-mate when I first got to the [New England] Patriots was from Purdue and was really good friends with Drew.

"I always just kept up with him and have gotten to know him somewhat well over the years. I just think so much of him as a person and as a player.

"I know what it takes to do what he's doing [and] he knows what it takes to do what I'm doing. I think there's just a lot of mutual respect."

While Brees has been with the Saints since 2006, Brady is in his first season with the Buccaneers.

Brady (341) and Brees (303) rank first and third in career starts among quarterbacks, regular season and playoffs combined, ahead of Sunday's clash.

The Saints won the NFC South for the fourth straight season and Brady praised New Orleans.

"They won the division, they're a great football team, [have] great coaches, a great system [and] so many great players," he said.

"Their defense is phenomenal – a top-five defense, basically, in every category. Great rush, great cover linebackers, they blitz well, a lot of continuity in the secondary [and] a lot of ballhawks in the secondary.

"They've been one of the top teams in the league for a long time and they've had some tough playoff losses [on] some really fluke plays. Other than that, there's not a lot of bad about this team. They're pretty spectacular."

Drew Brees and Tom Brady have proven age is just a number in the NFL and the superstar duo have continued to poke fun at each other ahead of the blockbuster showdown.

Brees – who celebrates his 42nd birthday on Friday – will lead the New Orleans Saints against the 43-year-old Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round on Sunday.

It will be the first playoff game since at least 1950 between the top two players in career passing touchdowns, while it will be the second postseason encounter since 1950 between the top two players in career passing yards.

Six-time Super Bowl champion Brady has taken a light-hearted approach this week after sharing a meme via Twitter, which depicted the two all-time great quarterbacks as older men set for battle on the History Channel.

Asked about the viral meme, Super Bowl winner Brees joked with reporters on Wednesday: "Unfortunately, they made me look like the dad from Family Ties. I didn't like the hairline. I'll be honest, I would have liked a little thicker head of hair. I mean, I know I'm getting older and probably losing a little bit, but I would have liked a little more hair up top. I've never really been able to grow a beard.

"So maybe that's what I've got later on in my future. Maybe I'll get a nice, good, thick beard going. But I thought it was hilarious."

Brees added: "Listen, I think, Tom and I have a friendship and mutual respect. We were texting back and forth on Monday just kind of chuckling at this whole scenario, right? Listen, he's 43. I turn 42 on Friday. So that's 85 years and a lot of football experience that's going to be on the field on Sunday.

"When Tom Brady signed with the Bucs and I knew that he was coming to our division, I envisioned this game. So what was that nine months ago, eight months ago, I envisioned this game happening because I knew our aspirations as a team, to be in the playoffs and beyond. 

"And I certainly knew what he was bringing to the Bucs and that talented roster. And so I think this is probably where we all envisioned being at this point in season."

Brady (341) and Brees (303) rank first and third in career starts among quarterbacks, regular season and playoffs combined, per Stats Perform.

Meanwhile, Brady's two touchdown passes against the Washington Football Team on Saturday brought his career postseason total to 75, and the victory was his 31st in 42 career playoff starts. Of the league's 32 current franchises, only five of them have as many as 31 postseason wins in their history.

"Tom and I have known each other for a long time and been playing against each other since 1999. Maybe before a lot of guys that we're on the field with were born," Brees continued.

"So I think, there's a friendship there. There's a mutual respect there. I think we have a lot of things in common. A lot of things that we both value and appreciate that are very much the same."

This will be the 59th all-time meeting between the franchises and the first time they will square off in the postseason. The Saints have won five straight games against the Buccaneers, outscoring Tampa Bay by a combined 165-81.

Tampa Bay's 38-3 loss to New Orleans in Week 9 was the most one-sided defeat by a playoff team in 2020.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said it was "inevitable" that he would meet Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady in the NFL playoffs.

It will be a clash of the titans when Brees and the Saints host Brady's Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round on January 17.

The second-seeded Saints earned a showdown with the Buccaneers after easing past the Chicago Bears 21-9 in Sunday's Wild Card clash in New Orleans.

Six-time Super Bowl champion Brady – who swapped the New England Patriots for the Buccaneers at the start of the season – and Brees are the top two passers in terms of yards and touchdowns in NFL history.

It will be the first playoff game since at least 1950 between the top two players in career passing TDs, while it will be the second postseason encounter since 1950 between the top two players in career passing yards.

"The minute that he signed with the Bucs and came to the division, you felt like that was going to be a team to contend with, that was going to be a team that would have playoff aspirations and beyond, just like us," Brees told reporters after being asked about the upcoming blockbuster.

"So, I guess it was inevitable."

Brees fuelled the Saints with two touchdowns against the Bears, finishing 28-of-39 passing for 265 yards, no interceptions and no sacks.

The veteran – who is reportedly set to retire at the end of the season – also became the sixth player in NFL history with 35-plus passing touchdowns in the playoffs, per NFL Research. Brees joins Brady (75), Joe Montana (45), Brett Favre (44), Peyton Manning (40) and Aaron Rodgers (40).

The Saints allowed nine points and 239 total yards at home to Chicago – each the fewest allowed by New Orleans in a playoff game in team history, per NFL Research.

"Our defense played outstanding," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "We tackled well in space ... Ultimately we forced them to become one-dimensional, and when you do that you're going to win a lot of games."

The New Orleans Saints cruised through to the Divisional Round after Drew Brees inspired a 21-9 victory over the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round.

Brees fuelled the second-seeded Saints with two touchdowns as the Saints made light work of Mitch Trubisky and the Bears in New Orleans on Sunday.

Saints star Brees was 28-of-39 passing for 265 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks, while Bears counterpart Trubisky finished 19 of 29 for 199 yards, one TD and no interceptions.

The Saints stormed out of the blocks against the seventh-seeded Bears in the NFC clash – an 11-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Michael Thomas on the second possession setting the tone.

It was Thomas' first touchdown reception of the season amid a 2020 campaign ravaged by injuries, with an ankle problem sidelining the receiver for the past three weeks.

A 36-yard field goal from Cairo Santos reduced the deficit for the Bears, who trailed 7-3 at half-time at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome where Chicago were making just their second playoff appearance in the past 10 seasons.

Brees weaved his magic again as he connected with Latavius Murray on a six-yard pass to move the Saints 14-3 clear with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Alvin Kamara's short rushing TD less than nine minutes from the end put the result beyond doubt, while the Bears finally entered the endzone when Trubisky threw a 19-yard pass to Jimmy Graham at the death.

 

Turning point - Saints defense

It was a dominant display from New Orleans' defensive unit at home to the Bears.

While sack leader Trey Hendrickson missed the game due to injury, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins stepped up and wreaked havoc – recording one sack, while C.J. Gardner-Johnson tallied eight total tackles.

Chicago's cause was not helped by Anthony Miller's ejection in the third quarter after the wideout shoved Gardner-Johnson.

Brees flexes muscles

The veteran quarterback became the sixth player in NFL history with 35-plus passing touchdowns in the playoffs, per NFL Research. Brees joins Tom Brady (75), Joe Montana (45), Brett Favre (44), Peyton Manning (40) and Aaron Rodgers (40).

What's next?

Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers await the Saints in a blockbuster Divisional Round showdown. It will be the first playoff game since at least 1950 between the top two players in career passing touchdowns.

After a second Wild Card loss in three years, questions again will be asked of quarterback Trubisky – who is no guarantee to return to Chicago – and the Bears heading into the offseason.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees labelled Alvin Kamara's performance against the Minnesota Vikings as "astounding".

Kamara tied the all-time NFL record by rushing for six touchdowns in the Saints' 52-33 win over the Vikings on Christmas Day.

The running back equalled the mark set by Hall of Famer Ernie Nevers in 1929.

Brees hailed Kamara's performance after the Saints clinched the NFC South for the fourth straight year.

Kamara became the fourth player to score six TDs of any kind in a game, joining Nevers, Dub Jones (1951) and Gale Sayers (1965).

"It was awesome, it was awesome. Six touchdowns for a running back is just astounding," he told a news conference.

"Obviously he got a few in the first half and then kept getting them and I can remember him scoring and me being like I think that's five.

"Taysom [Hill] gets a touchdown there in the fourth quarter and then Sean [Payton, head coach] kind of mentioned to me he said, 'Hey, if Alvin gets one more touchdown, he ties this record with Gale Sayers'.

"Obviously, you're looking at the scoreboard, we're up three possessions, he's like, 'Let's see how close it is,' so they go down and score, we get the ball back at that point you get a first down and we're on a knee. We had the opportunity we felt like let's throw it before the two-minute warning and we get the big play to [Adam] Trautman that gets us down in scoring range so some things had to happen there in order to have the opportunity but then at that point it's like man we're getting this record."

Brees was below his best, going 19 of 26 for 311 yards and two interceptions, although he also made some history, becoming the first player to reach 80,000 career passing yards.

The 41-year-old was playing his second game back from rib and lung injuries and said he was still getting back to his best.

"I didn't know how I was going to feel coming off a game with only five days' rest with everything, but I actually felt pretty good, I felt better this week than I did last week," Brees said.

"That's the goal, to continue to get better and better each week, continue to get all the strength back, get all the feel and rhythm back."

Patrick Mahomes spoke of his respect for Drew Brees after the Kansas City Chiefs overcame the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Mahomes and Brees both threw three touchdown passes as the Chiefs beat the Saints 32-29 in the NFL.

Brees was making his return from injury, and his 0-for-six start was the worst of his career before he improved.

Mahomes, who was 26 of 47 for 254 yards and his three TDs, discussed his respect for 13-time Pro Bowler Brees.

"It's just a bunch of respect. Obviously, I watched Drew growing up, I have the same financial advisor as Drew does now and I've met him over the years just at different things and he spoke advice to me," the Chiefs quarterback told a news conference.

"For me, just showing him the ultimate respect, he's one of the best to ever do it and he's still doing at a high level and so it was a great game.

"Obviously we came out with the win but it was a great game by him as well."

Brees finished 15 of 34 for 234 yards, three TDs and an interception.

Meanwhile, Le'Veon Bell had 62 rushing yards, including a TD, for the Chiefs, who saw Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffer an apparent leg injury.

"He [Bell] has been a great addition. You've seen him in spurts. He's been getting in, making plays happen when he's in the football game," Mahomes said.

"Obviously we're hoping Clyde gets back quickly, but I think we have good guys in that running back room that will step up and really embrace that role."

Drew Brees will start at quarterback in his return for the New Orleans Saints, confirmed head coach Sean Payton.

Brees has been sidelined since suffering rib fractures on each side of his chest and a collapsed right lung in last month's win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Super Bowl champion and MVP quarterback has missed four consecutive NFL games due to the injury, but Brees will make his comeback against the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

"Our plan is to play him, our plan is to start him," Payton told reporters on Friday.

The Saints (10-3) are 3-1 in Brees' absence with Taysom Hill as the starting quarterback.

Brees completed a league-best 73.5 per cent of his passes for 2,196 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions prior to his injury on November 15.

"He's looked good," Payton said of Brees. "He feels good. We were encouraged at the start of the week. We wanted to see how it felt as he went through a full practice week, and he's done a good job.

"We wouldn't be playing him if he wasn't healthy and able to function and feeling good and recovered."

The Saints saw their nine-game winning streak snapped following last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

New Orleans allowed 400-plus yards for the first time this season and were gashed for 246 yards on the ground – the most allowed by the team in their last 96 games, per Stats Perform.

After catching exactly 81 passes in each of his first three seasons, Saints star Alvin Kamara has 77 receptions in 2020. He is looking to become the second running back in history to have 80 or more receptions in at least four straight seasons – Marshall Faulk had a five-year streak from 1998 through 2002.

Drew Brees will start at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints in their Week 15 clash with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to reports. 

Brees has not featured for the Saints since Week 10 because of a collapsed lung and 11 fractured ribs. 

However, ESPN reported the 41-year-old will return for a meeting with the defending Super Bowl champions on Sunday. 

Utility player Taysom Hill took over the offense in Brees' absence, starting at quarterback for the first time since his college career at BYU. 

The Saints went 3-1 under Hill, suffering a shock loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week that gave the Green Bay Packers a slight edge in the race for the number one seed in the NFC. 

There has been a negligible drop-off in the Saints' overall production in that time. 

New Orleans averaged 373.1 yards per game in their first nine games of the season. In Hill's four starts, that dipped to 362.5. 

The difference came in how that yardage was gained, though, with the Saints unsurprisingly more reliant on Hill's abilities as a runner. 

Their pass yardage average dropped from 252.3 per game to 188 in Hill's four starts. However, New Orleans' rush yardage per game average ballooned from 120.8 to 174.5. 

Brees will face a formidable challenge against the Chiefs, who are 12-1 with their explosive offense supplemented by an opportunistic defense that has recorded 20 turnovers - tied for the fourth-most in the NFL this season. 

Patrick Mahomes is clinging to hopes he can test his game against Drew Brees on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs tackle the New Orleans Saints.

Brees has returned to the Saints group after being on injured reserve with a rib problem, but there is no guarantee the 41-year-old will play any part at the weekend.

Saints coach Sean Payton was coy about his intentions for Brees, saying it was important he does not rush back the veteran quarterback while at the same time not excluding the prospect of his involvement.

Since Brees made his NFL debut in 2001, only Tom Brady has thrown more touchdown passes (644) than Brees' haul of 599.

Mahomes is slowly climbing that list, with his 122 TD passes coming in just 49 games.

In the same period, Mahomes has the highest touchdown passing percentage (6.9 per cent) of all quarterbacks with 15 or more TD throws.

Speaking about Brees' contribution over the past two decades, Mahomes said: "It is truly special, to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and to be able to consistently produce every single year.

"Hopefully we get to go up against him or I get to go up against him. But if not, hopefully we'll get to face him some other time. Because you want to play against those great quarterbacks that you watch growing up, that were kind of guys that you looked up to and the way that they played the game."

Brees, a Texas native, is a former Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP.

He has been absent for four games, with Taysom Hill stepping in, since sustaining rib fractures on each side of his chest and a collapsed right lung in the November win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Brees had completed a league-best 73.5 per cent of his passes for 2,196 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions prior to his injury, and it would likely be a stronger Saints side for his presence.

Regardless, Mahomes is eager to see the former Chargers star involved.

"Obviously, I have a ton of respect for Taysom and the way that he's been able to play and produce," said Mahomes in a news conference.

"I watched him when I was in college and now in the NFL, the way he's able to go out there to throw the ball, be a quarterback, but also be one of the best athletes on the field, it's truly special.

"But you want to go up against those great quarterbacks that have done it for a long time - another Texas guy, a guy that I've met a couple of times and is just a great guy."

New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees still has "a ways to go" in his injury recovery despite being designated to return to practice, according to head coach Sean Payton.

Brees has been sidelined since suffering rib fractures on each side of his chest and a collapsed right lung in last month's win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Super Bowl Champion and MVP quarterback has missed four consecutive NFL games due to the injury, but Brees edged closer to a return on Wednesday.

Asked about Brees ahead of Sunday's showdown with reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs, Payton told reports midweek: "We haven't ruled anything just because we don't have to.

"He's got a ways to go still, and he's someone we're not gonna just hurry back and just put him in the game.

"I think the significance of the injuries are such that you've gotta make sure he can function and feel confident."

The Saints (10-3) are 3-1 in Brees' absence with Taysom Hill as the starting quarterback.

Brees completed a league-best 73.5 per cent of his passes for 2,196 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions prior to his injury on November 15.

In Hill's four starts, he has completed 82 of 114 passes for 831 yards and four touchdowns, while he has 211 yards and four TDs on 39 carries.

The Saints saw their nine-game winning streak snapped following last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

New Orleans allowed 400-plus yards for the first time this season and were gashed for 246 yards on the ground – the most allowed by the team in their last 96 games, per Stats Perform.

After catching exactly 81 passes in each of his first three seasons, Saints star Alvin Kamara has 77 receptions in 2020. He is looking to become the second running back in history to have 80 or more receptions in at least four straight seasons – Marshall Faulk had a five-year streak from 1998 through 2002.

Since the start of the 2017 season, the Saints (47-14) and Chiefs (46-15) have the top two regular-season records in the league. And in that span, Kansas City lead the NFL in scoring (30.1 points per game) with New Orleans ranking second (29.1).

The New Orleans Saints placed quarterback Drew Brees on injured reserve on Friday, guaranteeing the NFL's all-time leading passer will miss at least the next three games.

Brees suffered rib fractures on each side of his chest and a collapsed right lung last weekend, seemingly when he took a crushing hit from San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Kentavius Street in the second quarter of New Orleans' 27-13 win.

Brees remained in the game and threw a touchdown pass before half-time but remained on the sidelines for the second half.

Scans on Monday revealed his injuries, which kept him out of practice even before he was placed on injured reserve.

The 7-2 Saints, winners of their past six games, enter Sunday's contest against the Atlanta Falcons tied for the best record in the NFC and with a half-game lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South.

Earlier on Friday, multiple media outlets reported that Taysom Hill – not Jameis Winston – will be the Saints' starting quarterback this week.

The Saints have yet to put a timetable on Brees' recovery, but he is guaranteed to miss two games against the Falcons and a game against the Broncos in Denver. Brees will be eligible to return on December 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brees remains 388 passing yards short of becoming the first player to ever throw for 80,000 yards in an NFL career.

Drew Brees' participation in the rest of the 2020 NFL season looks in doubt after the New Orleans Saints quarterback reportedly suffered multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung. 

Brees missed the entire second half of the Saints' 27-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 after appearing to be injured on a sack by Kentavius Street that was called back for a controversial penalty. 

Backup Jameis Winston completed six of his 10 passes for 63 yards in his absence as the Saints claimed victory behind a strong defensive effort and special teams miscues from the 49ers. 

However, should he be named the starter, they will likely need much more from Winston as the Saints compete for the top speed in the NFC following a report from ESPN that Brees has fractured five of his ribs, with doctors cautioning him to be careful with the damage to his lung. 

The 41-year-old signed a two-year extension with the Saints in the offseason but, while it is unclear how much time he will miss, his injuries serve as a setback to their hopes of winning a second Super Bowl together. 

New Orleans' defeat of San Francisco moved the Saints to 7-2 but the pressure will be firmly on Winston and utility player Taysom Hill to ensure the offense is explosive while Brees is on the sideline. 

Winston has the talent to do just that yet his penchant for turnovers - he led the league with 5,109 passing yards but threw 30 interceptions to go with his 33 touchdowns in his final season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 - could well prove crucial. 

Saints head coach Sean Payton has yet to officially commit to a starter, with the Atlanta Falcons their opponents in Week 11.

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