New Math, Clear Meaning

November 19th, 2020

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Some things are better left unsaid. Some are not.

It’s time to acknowledge what is staring the Bucs in the facemask heading into Monday night’s encounter against the Rams.

Win and you’re in.

A victory would improve Tampa Bay to 8-3, virtually guaranteeing the Bucs will be preparing for games past the Jan. 3 regular-season finale. In the race for 10 wins, the Bucs would have to lose four of their final five games to fall short of double-digit victories. With Tom Brady under center, that’s not happening.

Buc fans remember the collapse of 2008, when Tampa Bay opened 9-3 and failed to win any of the final four matchups. That cruel December fold cost Jon Gruden his job, but this team has a lot more talent.

First of all, Jeff Garcia is no Tom Brady. And let’s remember that the 2008 defense tanked once it became clear Monte Kiffin was leaving after the season to join his son’s staff at the University of Tennessee.

Raheem Morris talked often about the Race To 10 during his three years as head coach of the Bucs, figuring a 10-6 mark would be good enough for a postseason berth. That wasn’t the case in 2010, when the Josh Freeman-led Bucs won 10 games but didn’t make the playoffs.

It happens.

Inside The Odds

Since the NFL re-aligned in 2002, 10 teams that won at least 10 games failed to earn a postseason berth. But that was under the old rules, when only two wild-card clubs from each conference made the playoffs.

Times are different.

With seven NFC clubs advancing now instead of six, the math has changed — dramatically.

If played under the current format, 2010 is the only year in the past 18 seasons that a 10-win club would have failed to qualify for the playoffs. That was the year the Bucs and Giants, each 10-6, were beaten out for NFC wild-card spots.

The current standings suggest this won’t be a repeat of 2010. Even if three clubs from the NFC West finish with at least 10 wins, the Bucs would still be in good shape.

The NFC East is a disaster zone, absolutely no factor in terms of advancing a wild-card club. And if the Bucs beat the Rams, they should be assured of no worse than a second-place finish in the NFC South.

That leaves the NFC North, led comfortably by Green Bay. Reeling Chicago is 5-5 and surging Minnesota is 4-5. Although the Bears hold the tie-breaker advantage over Tampa Bay, they are much more likely to finish 7-9 than 10-6. Expect a Windy City house cleaning in the offseason.

Ira Kaufman is not concerned about the Vikings with Dalvin Cook

With Dalvin Cook leading the way, the Vikings are playing very well following a 1-5 getaway. Minnesota travels to Raymond James Stadium following Tampa Bay’s bye week, but it strains credulity to think the Vikes are good enough to win nine of their final 10 games.

The division crown remains in reach for the Bucs, but a wild-card spot appears the more likely route to the playoffs. While it’s rare to see a wild-card team advance to the Super Bowl, Brady’s pedigree would give the Bucs a fighting chance.

“A lot of guys on the team have never made the playoffs,” Brady noted on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Once that 12-year drought is history, anything can happen.

If the Bucs can nail down the conference’s No. 5 playoff seed, they would face the NFC East champion. And even though that would be a road game, Tampa Bay would be favored.

You get the picture. No division champ wants to face Brady and company in the postseason, even at home. Heck, road teams are winning almost 50 percent of the time this year, in part because of reduced fan capacity at NFL stadiums.

History tells us that a Monday night victory all but ensures the Bucs a playoff spot. What more motivation do you need?

Here’s this week’s message for Bruce Arians, free of charge:

Win and you’re in.

14 Responses to “New Math, Clear Meaning”

  1. Rico 210 Says:

    Well said Sage. Good day sir
    Go Bucs

  2. gp Says:

    No pressure

  3. Rayjay1122 Says:

    Well said Sage. I am concerned though. Prime time playoff type game gives me nightmarish flashbacks of the disaster vs the Saints.

  4. HeyItsAdam Says:

    I remember that last game of 2008. The Bucs lost to the Jamarcus Russell-led Raiders AT HOME.

    The biggest QB bust in NFL history kept the Bucs out of the playoffs and cost Jon Gruden his job. They were even up 10 in the 4th quarter. They had NO ANSWER for Jamarcus Russell. Utterly disgraceful.

  5. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Of course the healthiest team that is peaking for the playoffs is the favorite, not necessarily the most talented team.

    We have enough talent that if it all comes together at the right time we could catch lightning in a bottle…peaking just in time to win the SB.

  6. PSL Bob Says:

    It would have seemed that the prospect of a Division crown would have provided incentive. However, the Bucs tanked in their latest Sunday night matchup against the Saints. Agree, Ira, this game is huge, but it’s really hard to figure what motivates the Bucs with the up and down season they’ve had to date. I think it fall more on coaching and game planning. Give Brady a clean pocket and we’ll be ok.

  7. Godlovesbucs Says:

    I went to the tampa bay at carolina game in 2008. Both were 9-3 and looking for 1st in the division. Johnathan stewart and deangelo williams ran for 100+ and that started the slide. Such a dissapointing season.

  8. 813bucboi Says:

    1 game at a time….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  9. TampaTown Says:

    Seeing that MNF is the ultimate prime time game, are we walking into a buzzsaw? If the Bucs come out flat yet again on national TV, I’m going to snap.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    You seem to be somewhat hung up on ‘history’ right now Ira. History only tells you what happened yesterday. Projecting those trends to the future is ‘speculation’ at best. Every team & every year has to stand on its own and carve out its own place in ‘history’.

    You stated that ‘it strains credulity to think the Vikes are good enough to win nine of their final 10 games’. And yet, they’re on a roll & are playing excellent football right now, winning 3 straight & playing the Cowboys, Panthers & Jaguars before they play us. No reason … at this point … to think that they can’t run the table.

    And IF the Vikes continue to play sound football, the Bucs better bring their A-game to beat the Rams, the Chiefs AND/OR the Vikings over this next month. Those are 3 tough teams. Fortunately all 3 games are at RayJay. Oh wait, RayJay is where we got pummeled 38-3 by the Saints (who BTW still have to play the Chiefs & Vikings this season). I hope that ‘history’ doesn’t rear its ugly head in Joe’s ‘Den of Depression’.

    The other 3 games we play this season (Lions & Falcons twice) are no pushovers, or should I say ‘cupcakes’ to use Joe’s phraseology. Falcons are playing much better football and are 3-1 in their last 4 games. Lions have won 3 of their last 5 games. Those 2 teams are not ‘cupcakes’ by any means. Our remaining 6 games will let us all know exactly how good this year’s Bucs team is.

  11. Mike C Says:

    Hey it’s Adam, I was at that game, that game was my saddest moment as a Bucs fan. An (at the time) spoiled fan base refused to give any energy to the team that day, because they were too cold. I pleaded and implored my fellow fans to make noise…. to no avail smh.

  12. Mike Johnson Says:

    Well at least the so called sage has changed his tune from saying we are the best team in the NFC to..maybe if we can..There is hope for him returning from..the real f..ake news.

  13. '79 Defense Says:

    “A victory would improve Tampa Bay to 8-3, virtually guaranteeing the Bucs will be preparing for games past the Jan. 3 regular-season finale.”

    Guarantees with this team usually means something negative. Brady plays 20 years for one team, then comes here and has the worst defeat of his career by midseason of year one. That much more resembles a Tampa Bay Guarantee.

  14. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    I hope that they bury Monte Kiffin locally, I would hate to have to drive all the way to Tennessee, just to p!ss on his grave.

    Had to go to California to p!ss on Nixon’s grave, the line was 10 deep!