Winning Out Matters

December 25th, 2020

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For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there should be no rest for the weary.

If the Bucs handle their business tomorrow afternoon in Motown and officially end this brutal playoff drought, there will still be plenty of incentive to win against the Falcons in the regular-season finale.

That’s because an 11-5 record would guarantee the NFC’s No. 5 playoff slot for Tampa Bay, assuming the Saints lock up the division title.

That could happen before the Bucs even take the field at Detroit.

The Bucs would grab the highest-ranked wild-card spot with two more victories because the Rams and Seahawks face each other. If Seattle wins that matchup and the Bucs win out, Tampa Bay would finish ahead of the Rams. If Seattle loses to Los Angeles and then finishes 11-5, the Bucs would win the third tie-breaker because of a better record than the Seahawks against common opponents.

The Drive For Five

What’s the big deal about that No. 5 seed?

Isn’t it more important to give some of your veterans a break against Atlanta in Week 17?

Bruce Arians will think about it, but in the end, momentum and logistics should win out.

Easy Choice

An opportunity to take a four-game winning streak into the postseason is quite appealing. That would give this club added confidence – no matter where they are playing in the opening playoff round.

But more importantly, the chance to wrest that No. 5 seed away from the Rams or the Seahawks should be a driving force because the Bucs would then face the winner of the NFC East on the road.

And that division champ won’t even boast a winning record.

The 6-8 Redskins are currently in first place, but the Giants, Cowboys and even the 4-9-1 Eagles remain in the hunt. Yes, the Eagles are still alive. That’s how crazy this division looks through 15 weeks.

You could conceivably have the 11-5 Bucs travel to face the 6-9-1 Eagles in a couple of weeks.

That would be a bad look for the NFL shield, but a welcome sight for Buc fans.

Think about it. Would you rather travel to Washington or Seattle?

Let’s be serious for a moment.

History Versus Hope

Washington has an elite defensive line, without question. Former first-round picks are lined up across the board in the nation’s capital, but that’s the extent of the concerns.

No-brainer calls lies ahead for Bucco Bruce Arians, writes Ira Kaufman.

Keeping Tom Brady upright would be the obvious focal point against a team that lacks big-time offensive weapons.

Meanwhile, Russell Wilson looms in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s defense won’t scare you, but Wilson’s career 101.8 passer rating ranks fourth in NFL history, well ahead of Drew Brees and Tom Brady. He’s also 9-6 in the postseason, so he’d be slightly more challenging than either caretaker Alex Smith or Dwayne Haskins, who is now under siege off the field.

The Giants are inept on offense, the Cowboys can’t stop anybody and the Eagles are in disarray. If the streaking Bucs end up facing the NFC East champions, Tampa Bay would be a favorite … perhaps a prohibitive favorite.

The thought of giving Tom Brady or Ndamukong Suh a breather in Week 17 surely has its merits, but the prospect for an 11-5 finish should trump all other considerations.

Of course, all of these intriguing scenarios become moot if the Bucs leave Motown tracing the tracks of their tears.

The talent disparities between these two teams are enormous, on both sides of the ball, but we’ve seen Tampa Bay’s first-half foibles emerge as a disturbing pattern for more than two months.

The tantalizing prospect of securing a playoff berth should be enough to motivate this club. Brady doesn’t want to sit out Week 17.

He figures he can get plenty of rest on Feb. 8, the day after he hoists another Vince Lombardi Trophy.


8 Responses to “Winning Out Matters”

  1. PSL Bob Says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more Ira. I view both games as tune ups for the playoffs. We need to repair the slow starts to recent games, and there won’t be a better opportunity to do that than in the next two weeks. Build some confidence and take an 11-5 record to whichever NFC east opponent the gods have in store. I’ve witnessed teams “resting” players in the final game only to fail in the playoffs. Rest them perhaps if they have lingering injuries, but otherwise it should be all hands on deck.

  2. Jonathan Limpchimpi Says:

    Great article, Ira…an extra Christmas gift if you will. We’ve seen the Bucs limp ( and I know limp when I see it ) into the playoffs…losing to the Eagles in a “meaningless” game and the last time they even made the playoffs in ‘07. Those didn’t end well. The number 5 seed looks like one heck of a prize at this point ( with a slight chance at an eventual home game…as you mentioned in a previous podcast. ) Merry a Christmas to Ira, his trophy wife and of course The Cosmo.

  3. Cobraboy Says:

    Just win for the sake of winning and some Big Mo. Let the match-ups take care of themselves.

    The goal is a game for the Lombardi, and every team that makes the playoffs will lose up to that Big Game.

    So you have to win them all.

    Starting now, every game and every play matters. I just hope the players realize that.

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    I agree Cobraboy … win out. The Bucs MUST figure out in these last 2 games how to start faster; slow starts in the playoffs would almost certainly spell the end of the line.

    IMO it’s important to start our starters, but if we get ahead by ‘enough’ (however much that is) let at least some of them ride the bench. Our biggest problem though is that for our older vets (Brady, Suh, JPP & even LVD) we don’t have much depth behind them.

  5. RiodeJaneiroBucsFan Says:

    The best case scenario would be the Bucs starting hot both against the Lions and the Falcons, building a huge lead early and resting the veterans in the 3rd and 4th quarters.
    The Bucs have the talent to accomplish it, but right now, looking at all those awful starts, it seems to be just wishful thinking.
    So, realistically, let’s hope that the Bucs win in Detroit and secure the playoff berth (finally). I really think that this fanbase doesn’t deserve a cardiac week 17 game.
    The 5th seed would be nice, but it isn’t the major concern, at least until tomorrow night, imho.

  6. Jmarkbuc Says:

    If the Bucs can’t start fast against a team with no coaching staff, we got big problems.

    Got once this season BA BL and Bowles need to have a plan.

  7. Jmarkbuc Says:

    *just once

  8. unbelievable Says:

    Fully agreed Ira. Win out!!!

    @jmark- can you imagine what someone like Sean Peyton or Sean McVay could do with all these weapons in offense?