For the fourth year in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be playing playoff football. The Bucs won the NFC South for the third consecutive season and did so in a way that gives everyone confidence that the team is bigger than To Brady and the success can be sustained.
Brady no doubt lifted the Bucs but there's a reason almost every expert picked them to be one of the worst teams in the league as soon as he retired. Against all odds, the Bucs not only stayed the course but found a way to improve upon what happened last year.
The Bucs finished the year with a winning record -- a sad low bar that needed to be cleared -- and might have found key pieces for the future in Baker Mayfield, Rachaad White, Yaya Diaby, and others.
Despite rumors that Todd Bowles would be fired, he pulled the team out of a 1-6 midseason slump to finish the year 4-1 and division champions. All of that has set up a hopeful Wild Card showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles, one that some folks are already picking the Bucs to win.
Gerald McCoy predicts Bucs will beat Eagles in Wild Card
While making an appearance on The Jim Rome Show, McCoy got an early start on picking the Bucs to pull out a victory on Wild Card Weekend.
“I see Tampa getting revenge on them from Week 3. That’s not the same Philly team that played then,” McCoy said of the slumping Eagles, 11-5 after starting 9-1. “They’ve exposed themselves," McCoy said. "I feel like going on the road, they’re just not the same dominant team that they were. And the Bucs can at least make it to the second round [of the playoffs].”
McCoy said this before Week 18's win over the Panthers, so he was ahead of his time with the prediction. It's one that's not looking so crazy after how the Eagles finished the season, as they got thumped by the New York Giants and ended up losing five of their last six games.
Philly finishing the year on a losing skid is one thing, but the health of the Eagles roster is a whole other thing. Jalen Hurts got banged up in the Week 18 loss and A.J. Brown suffered a knee injury. DeVonta Smith didn't even play in the game and the Eagles lost star rookie safety Sydney Brown to a torn ACL. Lane Johnson has given fans a few injury scares this year and Dallas Goedert has been in-and-out all season.
On top of everything, the Eagles face the dreaded Super Bowl hangover, one that seems to very obviously be catching up with them. It's not easy playing as many games in calendar year as the Eagles, and the wear-and-tear is no joke.
Of course this could all be setting up a Wild Card game in which the Eagles face adversity and find a way to get back against the Bucs. Anything can happen, something we've learned both ways with Tampa Bay this season, but the matchup against the Eagles is hardly an impossible one where the team stands no chance.