Buccaneers: Losing to the Saints may have been a good thing

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Not that it’s ever a good thing to lose to the New Orleans Saints, but this late in the season, if all goes according to plan, finishing at 13-4 would probably do what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to get done.  While the loss may jeopardize the top seed and first-round bye, there’s still a chance to clinch two home games if Tom Brady and crew lock in on their weak, week  17 and 18 opponents: the NY Jets and Carolina Panthers at Raymond James.

Look at it like this, if they pull this off, the Buccaneers would host at least two games, providing they continue their new winning streak starting Sunday.  That’s two wins to end the season, and you potentially get two home games.

Now, providing some of the other “challengers” don’t trip up the Green Bay Packers, their third game will likely be in the chilly confines of Lambeau Field.  A challenge no doubt, but Lambeau has not been the edge many seem to believe it is. Certainly, during the regular season, the Packers hold an edge when they play a winter game at home. But during the playoffs? Not so much.

Year Game Field/(score) Team

2010 SuperBowl SB location (31-25) Pittsburgh Steelers
2011 Divisional Home Loss (37-20) NY Giants
2012 Divisional Away Loss 45-31 SF 49ers
2013 Wild card Home Loss (23-20) SF 49ers
2014 NFC Champ Away Loss (28-22) Seattle Seahawks
2015 Divisional Away Loss (26-20) Arizona Cardinals
2016 NFC Champ Away Loss (44-21) Atlanta Falcons
2017 Did not make playoffs
2018 Did not make playoffs
2019 NFC Champ Away Loss (37-20) SF 49ers
2020 NFC Champ Home Loss (31-26) TB Buccaneers

Over the past 11 seasons, since the last time the Packers won the Lombardi Trophy, the team has been remarkably consistent at getting to the playoffs.  But through the past 10 seasons, they have also lost eight games at some point during the playoff battles. After defeating the Steelers as a wild card team, the Packers have lost five playoff games as a visitor, and three when they played at Lambeau.  They dropped three games to the 49ers, including one at home.  They also lost travel games to the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Falcons.  They lost two other home games, one against the Giants and the other, last year’s NFC Championship game, against Tampa (Oh, that’s us!).

At this point, it appears that the Packers have an almost good enough team.  Good enough to get to the playoffs, but not good enough to close out the deal.  And, despite all the hullaballoo about getting into the playoffs, isn’t it really about winning the Super Bowl?  It’s sort of like getting the hot date of your dreams and then showing up on the Covid list the day before your date.  Almost, but then not really.

And for certain, you can throw Tampa into a similar mix, except what you find is very few post-season appearances.  When they do get into the postseason, they tend to muddle things up for the other teams.  The team has made it to two Super Bowls and they have two Lombardi trophies for their efforts.  That’s pretty good, you might think.  Just look at the Buffalo Bills, who got to four SB’s in a row and for lack of a kicker came away empty-handed.  The Minnesota Vikings also failed to convert even one of their four SB games (1970, 1974, 1975, and 1977) into a Lombardi hoisting (or in the case of Tampa, tossing) event.

In truth, winning the SB may be the hardest of the Big Four World Championships (baseball, basketball, hockey, football).  Who knows for sure, and it takes a pretty solid math pedigree to figure out the odds on it happening.  It’s one thing to make the playoffs, but nearly half of those who make it there fail to convert for a week-two game. And this season is even worse for home team advantage, due to their only being one team in each league who earn a first-round bye.

Anyway, back to having lost to the Saints.  The Saints managed to play the Bucs tough all the time. It’s been that way ever since Tampa entered the NFL in 1976, the same year as Seattle.  To say that the team has struggled over the years is to have a short memory of all the decades of failure. In its 46 seasons, the Bucs have graced the playoffs a paltry 11 times, less than 25 percent of its NFL life.  They didn’t reach the SB until 2003, when they demolished the Oakland Raiders, 48-21.  The next time they appeared in the SB, it was against the Kansas City Chiefs. How’d that one end for you? Oh yeah, the Bucs won 31-9.

So now, with two games left in the regular season, the Bucs need to win out in order to have a shot at earning a second home game during the playoffs. It’s still possible that they will lose before we get there, but unlike the Bucs team from the 2000s, this team seems to have the kind of swagger that former dynasty teams had.  Can two consecutive Lombardi’s make the Bucs a Dynasty?

Let’s leave that for the pundits to argue about, providing the Buccaneers, once again, reach the promised land.

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