Today Is A Playoff Game

January 1st, 2023


There was a spark of excitement in the Bucs’ locker room this week despite the offense being in a slump, despite the Bucs playing down to the level of their opponents and despite all the injuries.

Even guys listed as questionable for today’s game were keyed up.

The dog days of the NFL season are in the past. Yeah, the trip to Munich was a cool break for the players as was the bye the week after.

There was a sense of electricity in the air in the Bucs locker room last week and maybe it was the holiday season. But certainly a playoff vibe had the Bucs excited on an otherwise drab Wednesday afternoon in December.

Bucs Pro Bowl safety Antoine Winfield sure didn’t act depressed about his bum ankle when Joe was speaking with him about today’s equivalent of a postseason game against the Stinking Panthers at The Licht House.

When Joe asked Winfield if today was a playoff game, he smiled wide.

“Yes, yes,” Winfield said, “Win and you’re in!”

For Winfield, he is excited by the challenge. A loss doesn’t mean the Bucs can’t win the NFC South. It just means they would need help to back in.

“It makes everything intensified more,” Winfield said. “Practice, our approach to the game. Our mindset is pretty, ‘Win or go home.'”

Like most of his teammates, Winfield said the goal for the Bucs is to turn the Stinking Panthers into a one-dimensional team: forcing quarterback Sam Darnold to throw early and often.

“Our goal is to play solid defense and get off the field when we’re supposed to get off the field,” Winfield said. “Make our third-down stops. Create takeaways for our offense. We just want to have a great game.”

It will help a lot if two things happen for the Bucs. The first is for both Akiem Hicks and Vita Vea to get on the field at the same time. When both start, the Bucs are 5-2. When one is not starting, the Bucs are 2-6. Also, the Bucs allow roughly 60 more yards rushing a game when either Hicks or Vea is not starting.

Score first and get Hicks and Vea on the field together. Two big ifs as Vea is questionable with a nagging calf injury.

7 Responses to “Today Is A Playoff Game”

  1. NJbucs23 Says:

    Need Vita to play

  2. SufferingSince76 Says:

    The only thing I expect is for Leftovers to be his usual hard headed, inept self. The rest will follow.

  3. Scubog Says:

    After last weeks highly successful resurrection of the old “Ground Chuck” offensive strategy, I’m sure the Panthers think they’ll just deploy that same game plan against the Bucs, assuming that our offense will continue its’ scoring drought. On the defensive side, I expect them to do what most of our other opponents have done and play two deep safeties. Then again, the Cardinals may have shown that it’s no longer necessary to keep the safeties back since we don’t seem capable of protecting Brady long enough, nor is his accuracy good enough, to hit those “shots” anyway. In spite of this, in this game we need to try a little “Air Coryell” and stop playing not to lose.

  4. Hodad Says:

    This really is the season, and maybe next season too. This game will determine a lot about the future of Buc football going forward. Thank God we don’t have to wait till late at night to see how this goes down. Happy New Year, Go Bucs!!

  5. ModHairKen Says:

    Who have they competed with recently? Arizona? NO? No. They choked.


    Playoffs mean nothing when you limp in with a barely above .500 or worse record and then lose.

    Dungy was fired after making the playoffs. Gruden was fire after BTB 9-7 seasons.

    They cannot let Bowles return.

  6. 500Cells Says:

    I welcome the return of the Lost Decade, pt. 2! #BacktoLoserVille Population, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

  7. Larry Says:

    Several things have gone wrong in 2022 for the Bucs. Mostly it is the coaching . Todd Bowles and Brian Leftwich are just not that good without Bruce Arians at the helm.