The time has come and there are no more excuses for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sunday Night Football on NBC this week must end with the Bucs decimating the visiting New Orleans Saints. If it does not, the team’s supporters should have serious questions on whether a repeat as Super Bowl Champions is a real possibility.
Sure, it may be Taysom Hill starting at quarterback for the Saints instead of Jameis Winston or Trevor Siemian, but it isn’t like Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles have no idea what he brings to the table. They have seen his act and should be super prepared for it. He’s pretty good at what he does, but there’s a limit to his effectiveness that the Bucs defense should have no problems keeping in check.
Not to mention that Saints head coach will not be on the sidelines on Sunday after testing positive for Covid-19. New Orleans will be led by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. Clearly, another advantage for the home team.
Then there is what could be on the line by the time game time rolls around. A victory by the Bucs clinches the NFC South Division for the first time since 2007 and ends the Saints run of four seasons as division top dogs. That should be motivator enough but there is more.
A Bucs win snaps a six-game regular season losing streak to New Orleans. Tampa Bay last beat the Saints 48-40 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2018, with Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterbacking the pewter and red to victory. It is clearly time to stop being on the losing end against a clearly less talented team.
Finally, there is the big picture. The Bucs moved into the 2nd seed in the NFC with the Arizona Cardinals loss on Monday Night versus the Los Angeles Rams. A little help from the Baltimore Ravens with a win over the currently top seeded Green Bay Packers earlier in the day would provide an even bigger opportunity. A win over the Saints would then put the 11-3 Bucs at the top of the conference.
Tampa Bay would then have to win the last three games of the season, a road tilt against the New York Jets sandwiched between two meetings with the division rival, Carolina Panthers, to ensure the only bye going into the playoffs.
Yes, some things would have to play out and the Bucs would need some help in the big picture, but everything revolves around what happens on the field. So, there is no excuses for the Buccaneers in not keeping all of their goals alive. Beat the Saints on Sunday and all remains in play.
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