Bigger Than You Think

September 29th, 2023

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Every NFL coach says it, including Todd Bowles: It’s the most important game because it’s the next game.

Don’t believe it.

Not all games are created equal. While each win or loss counts the same in the standings, different matchups vary in terms of expectations and ramifications.

A lot is on the line Sunday, explains Ira Kaufman.

Given their 2-0 getaway, the Bucs were not facing undue pressure Monday night when the Eagles came to town. An upset victory would have been marvelous, but the 25-11 setback was neither surprising nor devastating.

Week 4, at New Orleans, feels different.

The Bucs have their sights set on a third consecutive NFC South crown, so the first divisional game of the season carries substantial weight. To say there’s no love lost between the Bucs and Saints is a huge understatement. There’s also a good chance Jameis Winston will be under center for an injured Derek Carr, adding another layer of emotion to this matchup.

And most of all, the difference between a 2-2 record or a 3-1 start entering the bye week is huge.

The Bucs can put a little distance between themselves and the Saints while taking some momentum into the break. A setback would give Tampa Bay a 2-game losing streak, triggering concerns and potential roster upgrades.

New Orleans is coming off a brutal loss at Green Bay as the Packers rallied from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter. It was a surprising meltdown by a defense that has carried the Saints since Drew Brees hung up his cleats.

New Orleans has gone 29 consecutive games without allowing a 300-yard passer, dating back to a midseason 27-25 loss to Matt Ryan and the Falcons in 2021. The Saints currently boast the No. 6 scoring defense in the league and crowd noise could be a factor for Baker Mayfield in the Superdome.

New Orleans has overhauled defensive coordinators and churned the roster, but three mainstays remain for Dennis Allen, encompassing all three levels. Defensive end Cam Jordan arrived in 2011 and has been named one of the NFL’s Top 100 players eight times in voting by his peers. Linebacker Demario Davis has been a standout in the Big Easy since 2018 and elite cornerback Marshon Lattimore was drafted in 2017. Jordan holds the distinction of being one of the few edge rushers to cleanly beat Tristan Wirfs for a sack.

With Wirfs now operating on the left side, it’s Luke Goedeke’s turn to handle a savvy veteran.

Like Lavonte David, Davis roams sideline-to-sideline and isstout in coverage. Lattimore enjoys playing mind games with Mike Evans and he usually wins this stirring matchup.

Saints defensive end Cam Jordan started the trash talk early.

Jordan tried to downplay the annual rivalry against Tampa Bay, but he’s unconvincing — especially when he fires a shot at Buc Nation.

“We have areas we want to take advantage of and I feel like over the years that has been an area we have seen work for us,” says Jordan, who was then asked about Buc supporters.

“I don’t think they have fans anymore once Tom left,” he said, referring to life after Brady.

Things could get dicey for the Bucs if they drop this one.

Remember last year’s 2-0 start? That was followed by a stretch of five losses in a 6-week stretch, including three setbacks at home. The slate after the bye week is no picnic, starting with the surging Lions at Raymond James Stadium. After another home game against Atlanta, the Bucs will be on the road four times in a 5-week stretch.

An early prove-it situation has evovled for Todd Bowles, says Ira.

Even that road matchup at Houston in Week 9 is no gimme, considering how rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has given the Texans some offensive juice.

While it’s too early in the season to label Sunday’s game as a must-win, the Bucs need to show they can beat a team with a winning record. With a victory in the Superdome, Buc players can scatter jubilantly to the Bahamas and look for dolphins. With a loss, sullen Buc players can stay close to home and look at film.

This can go two ways.

The Bucs can hit the bye week acknowledged as one of the league’s biggest surprises at 3-1. A loss would trigger speculation that Todd Bowles has another 8-9 club on his hands.

And yes, that makes this a very big game.

Join Ira Kaufman, JoeBucsFan and great Bucs fans on

Sunday for the Saints-Bucs clash! Roll into the Big Storm Ybor taproom around noon for the 1 p.m. kickoff!

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30 Responses to “Bigger Than You Think”

  1. SlyPirate Says:


    You nailed it. A lot will happen as a result of the outcome.

    Bucs lose, the entire season (and future) is suspect. You could speculate an Evan’s deadline trade, a Baker collapse, and Bowles’ days being numbered.

    Bucs win, we control the division. A 3rd title (and playoffs) feels immanent. Licht might look for a trade or two to make a deeper playoff push.

  2. DS Says:

    Honestly I don’t feel like lattimore owns evans dude always has safety help and just play underneath

  3. Hodad Says:

    Huge game until the next one. A loss now is not that big a deal. If you lose to them again at home, that will be a big deal.

  4. The Dave Says:

    I hate to say it, but here’s where it starts. Looking forward to that clean house in January, and Williams/Maye/Penix in April. They should let Licht go, too. It’s time for a VERY fresh start.

    “Turn out the lights, the party’s over. They say that all good things must end. Call it a night, the party’s over, and tomorrow will start the same ol’ thing again…”

  5. stpetebucfan Says:

    It’s clearly an important game but it’s not make or break there’s simply too much season left. And it is on the road. The Bucs need to hold home field advantage.

  6. HC Grover Says:

    Must win or die. We will lose to Lions the if loss to Falcons it is pretty much done. Bills…ROFL.

  7. Lt. Dan Says:

    “… potential roster upgrades” I wouldn’t loose any sleep if the aforementioned upgrade rhymes with Monathan Maylor.

  8. ModHairKen Says:

    The Dave. I think you should stop calling yourself a fan. To suggest letting Licht go is asinine.

  9. Baker Costanza Says:

    As if anyone on an NFL team is going to change their bye week plans because of a loss. But yes, its a big game.

  10. Buddha Says:

    Schedule maker did the Buccaneers no favors. Eagles and Saints had more practice time. Then Lions and Bills. No easy games in the NFL. At full strength this game would be easy, but the injuries make it anyone’s guess.

  11. Mike C Says:

    HC Grover, what a well constructed clever comment, you must be so sure of these results that you have bet Huge sums of money on the outcome no?

  12. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Absolutely huge game

  13. Crickett Baker Says:

    We may have the most fickle fans in the NFL but we had plenty of them before Brady and have a bunch now.’
    Lattimore beat Mike last season by getting him a suspension and I bet he will try again. Mike has to come up with PI’s on himself as he has done so often in the past. I know this will be an aggressive game, but I just hope we come out on top. It would be so fine.

  14. teacherman777 Says:

    White is a Gen Z running back.

    Soft! He hates getting hit. He thinks he’s quicker than he actually is.

    He talks a lot but he’s soft.

    At least Leonard would run into people.

    White looks like a puntang after every tackle.

    And I don’t like how he keeps waiting for his teammates to pick him up after he gets tackled. Get up yourself pretty boy!

    I miss Leonard Fournette very much!

    White is vanilla! Soft!

  15. BucU Says:

    I don’t see a way we win this game. The running game is basically the same as last year. The worst in the league. Against good defenses that’s the kiss of death.

  16. BucU Says:

    Also I’ve been pro R White since he arrived. I’m realizing now he’s not who I thought he was.
    Keep waiting for the breakout game. And the waiting continues…

  17. pmarcello Says:

    Joe you write a great blog day after day. However I haven’t seen this many hateful vitriolic nasty insufferable trolls in any venue except for presidential politics. They are right the Bucs so called fans that post here are the worst I have ever seen.
    Anyway this game is going come down to Baker conjuring up a recipe from his bag of tricks. If the coaches allow it. Here is where these fools need to see something special and I am wishing with all my heart that Baker crams it down thje Saints throat and all the stinking trolls here get their traps shut. Go Baker go Bucs. Boomer Sooner. Either way I still got your back Baker!

  18. TOMMY MORDUE Says:


  19. stpetebucfan Says:


    Agree completely. But one of Joe’s strength is he is very light handed when it comes to censorship. Legality…misused links…libelous statements get run but he tolerates even the most inane biased comments otherwise.

    I don’t know why we draw so many trolls. Perhaps its actually an indication of JBF’s success that even the troll know which Buc blog to invade.

    I just grow weary of the juvenile hyperbolic insults. The 3rd grade name calling is lacking in thought and generally pretty boring. I try to read everybody but there are about ten guys here I REALLY read carefully because I learn from them.

    I’ve never learned a single thing from posters who call Bowles..bowels…so very funny eh…of Leftwich “leftnut”…I could go on but everybody already seen them too often.

  20. Bucnjim Says:


    It’s hard to file through the B.S. and immaturity. Usually I look for specific people posting. Defense Rules comes to mind but there are a lot of others. Tickdr posted something hadn’t seen much from him in a while. Captain Tim is a long time poster maybe longer than me. Quite a few others that just read now and don’t get involved in the drama.

  21. Voice of Truth Says:

    Bowles is hanging by a thread, he knows it and so does everyone else

    Very bad feeling going into this one, we just nut up against this type of physical team

    After the butt kicking we just took, this smells like a repeat heading into a mini vacation….

    Our main hope is JW is worse than Baker

  22. Beej Says:

    “An upset victory would have been marvelous, but the 25-11 setback was neither surprising nor devastating.”

    CLEARLY, Ira doesn’t read the comments here

  23. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    I’m w everyone else. I think the run game needs an upgrade. Many may not agree but I think this offend may be made for Rojo as a 1st and 2nd down back. He hits the holes hard. He would be a lot cheaper than Taylor and others. And then use Whote as a third down back.

  24. Crickett Baker Says:

    I agree with BucU. I thought White was my favorite draft pick and he was going to shine. Not yet. I, too, am waiting.

  25. stpetebucfan Says:


    I tend to read all of the posts but I’m certain you have a better plan.

    Sometimes I spar with the trolls and the smart posters like D.R. and others remind me of the error of my ways. I agree with them but sometimes I confess it’s a guilty pleasure. It is like shooting fish in the barrel so I should really stop.

  26. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Certainly no reason in the world Bucs should not offer ROJO a league minimum for the remainder of the season. ROJO is superior at running the ball when compared to anyone on Bucs roster. When there are obvious moves that can be made to improve your roster at a point of need and they are not made, that brings into question the worthiness of your GM and his continued employment. ROJO is only 25 with a ton of gas in the tank and brings that home run threat that Bucs currently just do not have.

  27. MomBucsFan Says:

    Agree.would like to have rojo. Whatever happens we will have money next year to upgrade roster and that is badly needed on offense. Defense needs depth. Baker is good, just needs a better o line and good run game. Would really help if defense were not so banged
    up every year. Trade Kancey…he is a bust. We cannot afford players who are always injured. Go Baker, go Bucs!and

  28. JBBUCS_06 Says:

    In NOLA now, already getting flack for my Bucs shirt. In the words of Dragonfly Jones… “It’s On!!!!!”

    Go Bucs!!

  29. BucU Says:

    Wouldn’t this be a perfect time for R White to come out and have a great game keeping us out of 3rd n long all day? Time to pick it up a notch. We NEED him to succeed for this team to be successful. It’s not optional. I’m still waiting for our new

  30. BucU Says:

    OC to scheme our skill players open and force defenses to defend every blade of grass.