Win And They’re In For New OrleansDecember 24th, 2013
Last year, the Bucs went to New Orleans in December and got their clocks cleaned 41-0. It was a shocking beating from the opening whistle for a Bucs team that was still in the playoff hunt.
Joe remembers talking to a Saints player off the record who said New Orleans was stunned by the Bucs’ lack of intensity for a big division game.
On Sunday, the Bucs will head back to the site of the beating, the Superdome, for their season finale. This time, the Saints are an improved team and the Bucs are struggling to move the chains.
After San Francisco’s victory against the Falcons last night, the NFC playoff picture is clear for Sunday. If the Saints beat the Bucs, then they’re in the playoffs. If the Saints lose, then they’re done for the season if Arizona wins. Also, the Saints can win the NFC South with a win and a Carolina loss.
In other words, the Saints have everything to play for, and their holiday season crowd for the now 4:25 p.m. kickoff will be extra buzzed to jack up the noise.
Joe realizes most Bucs fans see this as a completely meaningless game. But there is a lot on the line. The New Schiano Order is still being judged, and the Bucs defense should be able to show that it can slow the Saints, like it did in Tampa back in September. Another blowout here would still be just one game, but it would be awfully telling.
Joe’s hoping all that pride and unity in the Bucs locker room that has been talked about for months shows up on Sunday. If not? Well, that would be a horrific ending to a lost season.