The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won for the fifth straight time, the first time they’ve done that since the Super Bowl season of 2002. It has Buc fans believing that this might be the year the playoff drought comes to an end.
Of course, the New Orleans Saints continued to be a thorn in those plans and they didn’t go down without a fight. Would you expect anything less in the NFC South?
What I Got Right
I was all over the offense for a putrid performance and rightly so. While Tampa Bay was able to control the time of possession, crucial against a quarterback the likes of Drew Brees, most of the Bucs’ offensive drives after the first 16 or so minutes of the game ended in zero points. Tampa Bay had several opportunities to put this game out of reach, but the offense failed to produce.
Jameis Winston, for the first time since high school, was held out of the endzone (no passing or rushing touchdowns). I have a feeling there’s a mega-game coming for Winston. He’s been quiet for too long. Last time he threw three touchdown passes in a game was the Atlanta shibacle.
I don’t know if it’s coming this week or in the final two weeks, but there will be a Philly type performance by Winston. He’s due.
What I Got Wrong
Well, not really wrong, per se, but it wasn’t as great as I expected it to be. The Bucs defense did an outstanding job against Drew Brees and the top ranked New Orleans offense, limiting them just to 9 points (3 of which were set up following the safety).
Yet, sometimes you need a little luck and the Bucs certainly got some of that on Sunday as well. Brees overthrew a wide open Brandin Cooks in the first half and had another potential touchdown pass dropped by Cooks that could have given the Saints the lead. Brees also had a touchdown pass dropped by a Saints back coming out of the backfield on a wheel route. That’s 3 touchdowns off the board for New Orleans. How different would we have felt about this game had Drew Brees completed those passes?
Still, he didn’t, the Bucs defense was otherwise dominant and the Bucs got out of Ray Jay with a W.
Bucs fans hoped that by flexing the game to 4:25 that they would be the National game. Unfortunately, that honor went to Seattle and Green Bay. Still, Tampa Bay got an upgrade in the commentator category as Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis and Chris Spielman headed down to Ray jay to call this one.
Brenneman, as I said before, is one of the more underrated commenators in Fox’s stable. I’ve always enjoyed his smooth delivery and his voice inflections at the right time, without going all “Gus Johnson crazy”.
I’m a fan of Charles Davis from his “Path to the Draft” shows so I definitely enjoy the analysis he provides. The star though is Chris Spielman, who I’m starting to think rivals John Lynch as the best Fox has to offer in the commentator department. Spielman does his research and is just dropping knowledge left and right throughout the game. He’s correctly predicting plays – for example, Spielman astutely analyzed Josh Huff coming in motion, saying, “Watch Huff, they’re setting something up for later.” Sure enough, on the next series, Huff took a Jet Sweep from Jameis.
Spielman was giving great stuff like this throughout the game. Obviously, the Bucs will have the full force of the Sunday Night Football crew next week, but if for the final two ballgames Fox wants to give us this trio, I have absolutely no problem with that. Would rather have them than Buck and Aikman, to be honest.
What the Buc Moment of the Game
Obviously, the Tandy Man can – sealing the victory for the second straight week.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) December 12, 2016
But there’s also this. The unbelievable special teams play by Ryan Smith that looked an awful lot like another icon’s signature move.
— Trevor Clark (@Clark_Son_of_El) December 12, 2016
Were the Bucs as Good as They Looked?
Eh, no, not really. But hey, winning is the best deodorant is it not? Would I like to see more points on the board by the offense so we don’t have to worry about the Tandy Man sealing the game with an interception? Absolutely. Note to the Bucs – it’s okay to win by double digits and not sweat it out in the end.
Still, the Bucs are rolling and playing with a lot of confidence right now. Previous Bucs teams would have collapsed and lost that game. This one wouldn’t allow it.
Around the Dirty South
Atlanta just steamrolled the Scams, ending the Jeff Fisher Experience in L.A., Congrats Rams, on your victory over mediocrity. The Bucs ended the Saints playoff hopes while apparently last week’s loss to the Bucs crushed the souls of the Chargers as they got rick rolled by the Panthers. Carolina looks to be trying to finish strong, which could be good news (or bad news) for Tampa Bay.
Who to Root For This Week and Why
Once again, I broke down the playoff scenarios for the Bucs in detail, so check it out on Bucsnation with DLT’s Wild and Crazy Playoff Scenarios.
Bucs to beat Dallas – It would be a huge victory and an major lift to the Bucs playoff chances for Tampa Bay to win this ballgame. This has been the game everyone points to as the difference between the Bucs and the Falcons. If the Bucs win this game, then Tampa Bay and Atlanta basically have the same schedule (in different order) down the stretch.
Rams to beat Seattle – Hey, if the Bucs do win the NFC South, then they could potentially jump the Seahags into the third seed with a nasty loss here.
Bears to beat the Packers – Gives Green Bay that all important 7th loss.
Lions to beat the Giants – A Lions win would essentially give the Bucs two avenues to make it to the playoffs if they were to finish 2-1. Tampa Bay would need either the Giants to finish 10-6 (they own the tie-breaker over New York) or Washington to finish 9-6-1. They play each other at the end of the season, so an additional loss by the Giants before that season finale has the Bucs going in either way. If the Bucs win in Dallas, this would move Tampa Bay into the 5th seed. Of course, if the Giants win, it could also help the Bucs if they happen to win the NFC South, as the Lions hold on the second seed would suddenly become tenous. So, if you believe the Bucs will win the NFC South, root for the Giants. If you believe the Bucs will need to get in as a wild card, root for the Lions.
Colts to beat the Vikings – Gives them that all important 7th loss as well.
Saints to beat the Cardinals – Finish them off.
49ers to shock the world and beat the Falcons – Hey, it happens. Look at 2013 when a horrible 2-win Bucs team went into New Orleans and stunned the 13-1 Saints.
Panthers to knock off the Redskins – No matter what happens on SNF, the Bucs would benefit greatly from this happening.
This is it – the big one. Sunday Night Football. The Dallas Cowboys at JerryWorld. If you would have asked me a month ago, I’d say the Bucs had absolutely no shot at winning this game. Now? I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed if the Bucs don’t pull it off.
The Bucs have made a number of statements this season with wins in Atlanta and Kansas City and dominating the Seahawks at Ray Jay. This one, though. This one would send the Bucs into a new level of respect. No one could deny their pedigree as a playoff team and potential Super Bowl contender. Yeah, I said it.
You beat the best in the NFC and one of the best in the AFC, you’re a contender. Take it, Bucs. Take that respect and that next step.