We dat! We dat! WE DAT! The Buccaneers have won their fifth – yes, FIFTH – consecutive game after winning an ugly, sloppy game against the Saints 16-11.
It seems surreal. The Buccaneers – a team that went 0-4 in December a season ago – have won five consecutive games and moved to 8-5 on the season. They’re still in a tie with the Falcons for first place in the NFC South and still control their own destiny for the postseason.
Who’d have thought this was even a possibility after watching the Falcons beat the snot out of them on Thursday Night Football?
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I think it’s safe to say no fans saw this coming, making it all the sweeter. However, before we turn our attention to the Sunday night showdown in Dallas, it’s time to Pick Six!
Six Topics Suitable For Discussion
1.) It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t need to be. It was pouring and Jameis Winston did not have a good game against the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL. However, the defense got the job done. Doug Martin had a great touchdown run, getting in the end zone on a phenomenal second effort for the game’s lone touchdown. Vernon Hargreaves – our game day spotlight – recorded his first career interception, Brent Grimes had a key pick, and Keith Tandy sealed the deal for the second week in a row. This defense has allowed seven points – seven – in the fourth quarter in the last five weeks combined. This team is clicking and when one side of the ball is down, the other picks them up.
2.) Winston’s streak comes to an end. Jameis Winston had accounted for a touchdown in 28 consecutive games to start his NFL career. He accounted for a touchdown in 55 consecutive games going back to Florida State. That streak ended yesterday as Winston didn’t get into the end zone. It’s a streak that likely will never be broken in the NFL, but at the end of the game, I’d bet Winston couldn’t care less. All he cared about was running the best formation in football – victory formation.
3.) Keith Tandy making a case for himself. As improved as Chris Conte was over the past few games before being injured, Keith Tandy has made a strong case for himself to remain the starter once Conte returns. He’s made two game clinching interceptions in consecutive weeks and is playing the best football we’ve ever seen out of him. There’s no way Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter can relegate him back to the bench, is there?
4.) NOW it’s time to get hyped for the Cowboys game! We said it. You said it. The Bucs said it. No sense in getting excited over the game against the Cowboys being in prime time next week. The Saints need to be the focus. The Buccaneers are not a good enough team to be able to overlook an opponent and focus on a game two weeks away. They didn’t. They took care of business against the Saints so now, Bucs fans, now is the time to get amped up for a prime time showdown in Dallas. And y’know what? The Bucs can win that one.
5.) Three-Headed Monster. Doug Martin hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire as far as the stat sheet is concerned. He’s run well, he’s gaining yards after contact, he’s just not busting off the big runs like he did last season. With the return of Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers, the Bucs ran all three quite a bit – and effectively. Not only that, but Koetter had Sims lining up at wide receiver on a few plays, adding another element to his elusive speed and playmaking ability. This three-headed monster moving forward may just put some stress on opposing defenses.
Dec 11, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) celebrates a sack by Robert Ayers Jr. (91) in the first half against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
6.) Speak softly, and carry a BIG (expletive omitted) STICK! We saw the locker room celebration last week and what Koetter said to his team. The way he fired them up. The energy he brings. These guys love playing for him. Anyone who questioned the move to fire Lovie and promote Koetter has to see now why they made the move. These Bucs – the majority of which were here last season – are playing the best football we’ve seen in Tampa Bay in a decade. A lot of it has to do with Koetter and the way he has this team believing in themselves. All I can say is finally – they got a coaching hire right.
Six Numbers To Consider
.500 – The Bucs’ minimum winning percentage this season – best since 2010.
1 – Career interceptions for Vernon Hargreaves
23 – Takeaways by the Buccaneers’ defense since week five – most in the NFL
.600 – Jameis WInston’s career winning percentage against the NFC South
0 – Touchdowns by Mike Evans in the last two games
21 – First downs by the Bucs – compared to 14 by the Saints
We have three games remaining. Here’s who we need to see win in order to help the Bucs out.
1.) St. Louis Rams – They certainly let us down against a Julio Jones and Mohamad Sanu-less Falcons, but there’s still a slight chance the Buccaneers can earn the number two seed. It starts with a Seahawks loss on Thursday night.
2.) Detroit Lions – They’ll take on the New York Giants. A Giants loss will help the Bucs seeding opportunities.
3.) Carolina Panthers – Yeah, this stings a little bit, but the Panthers are all but out of it. With a Washington win against Philly, the Bucs need the Redskins to drop another game or two to gain some separation.
4.) Chicago Bears – Highly unlikely, but the Bucs need the Bears to take down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers who are making a late season push for the postseason.
5.) San Francisco 49ers – Even more unlikely than the Bears, the Niners travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. After they blew it against the Jets, I’m not holding my breath for this one. But hey…stranger things have happened.
6.) Indianapolis Colts – The Vikings stayed alive in the playoff race yesterday, so Bucs fans need to root for Andrew Luck to knock them down a peg Sunday.
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) New England Patriots – Yeah, yeah…not as good of a record as Dallas, but give me Brady and Belichick over a rookie quarterback any day.
2.) Dallas Cowboys – They have their work cut out for them in six days.
3.) Oakland Raiders – I believe they’re better than they showed Thursday. I’d still pick them over the Chiefs to make a Super Bowl run.
4.) Kansas City Chiefs – They’re hot right now, for sure. Could give New England fits if they meet in the postseason.
5.) Pittsburgh Steelers – Four wins in a row. They’re playing their best ball of the year at the right time.
9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Five straight, big test Sunday in Dallas. A win there? Oh, boy…