Monday night did not go the way most experts thought it would. Everyone started jumping on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers bandwagon at the last minute but those same experts were the ones writing the team off before the season started.
Tampa Bay was predicted to tank for a top draft pick, trade away its star players, and fire Todd Bowles. None of that happened and now the Bucs are preparing to play in the Divisional Round after throttling the Philadelphia Eagles in a 16-point Wild Card victory.
Not too shabby for a team whose season was over before it even started.
There's been a chip on the shoulder of everyone in Tampa all season, and the underdog role is one that the team has embraced. It helped them turn things around when they fell into a 1-6 slump in the middle of the season and it's once again powering the team as they prepare to head up to Detroit for a rematch with the Lions.
Antoine Winfield Jr fired a shot at the Lions after Bucs Wild Card win
After the Bucs win over Philly, Antoine Winfield Jr wasted no time in getting the mental games started with Detroit. He was asked by CBS sideline reporter Evan Washburn about stopping the Lions, and Winfield proceeded to cut a lowkey WWE promo warning the remaining NFC teams that the Bucs are out for revenge.
"On a revenge tour, all those teams ahead of us beat us in the regular season," Winfield said. "We're gonna have a great time with them."
Key in on 'so we're gonna have a great time with them', because that shot across the bow is oozing with the sort of confidence that could power the Bucs to another upset win.
Tampa Bay and Detroit have already met this season, and things didn't go exactly great for the Bucs. The Week 6 loss was what triggered that midseason slump and set for a series of unfortunate events that almost derailed the season.
Baker Mayfield said after the game that the team was getting the little things wrong during that slump, which made it even more frustrating since the team knew the mistakes were easily preventable. That was evident in the loss to Detroit where a few things -- like a sure-fire touchdown to Mike Evans getting intercepted at the line of scrimmage or Ryan Neal failing to pull the ball away from Jameson Williams on a huge score -- added up in a big way.
It's those errors, and the fact that they were easily preventable, that should give fans confidence heading into next weekend. The Bucs are a dangerous team and if they play anything like they did on Monday against the Eagles, both the 49ers and Lions might be in for more than they can handle.