The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a bottom-dweller, a consistently losing team for most of the past ten years. This squad played so poorly last year that it ended up with the first overall pick in the National Football League (NFL) Draft.
The Bucs used that pick to select Jameis Winston, a player considered to be the top college quarterback available in the 2015 Draft. In truth, Winston got off to a somewhat slow start in his inaugural season as a professional football player. But it takes almost all rookies time, often a full season, to get acclimated to football, “pro-style.”
Jameis Winston has actually taken less than a year to turn himself into a competent quarterback. The young signal caller has been playing exceptionally well over the past few weeks and his team, the Buccaneers, has been winning with regularity.
And now, after twelve games, Tampa Bay has a Won-Loss record of 6-6 and a legitimate chance to play in the postseason. It can make it to the playoffs by winning most or all of its remaining games. There are four contests that still need to take place, the first of which will be this Sunday in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs will host a squad from “the Big Easy,” the underperforming New Orleans Saints. This team, which is led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees has a Won-Loss record of just 4-8 and is in last place in the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC). Tampa Bay plays in the same division, but is in second place with its Won-Loss record of 6-6.
Surprisingly, the Bucs have a real chance to win one of two available Wild Cards. But it will require them to win this Sunday’s game and at least two of the three games they will have to play in the weeks ahead.
The Buccaneers are capable of putting together a string of wins because Jameis Winston has developed into a good leader and a solid quarterback who can make big plays.
But the visiting Saints can reach the end zone with alarming frequency, especially if Drew Brees is on top of his game. A loud and excitable crowd will be rooting hard for the home team and may be able to “fire up” and energize individual Bucs.
But the athletes playing for Tampa Bay, like Mike Evans and Doug Martin, should be able to elevate their game without help from the team’s “12th man,” the fans. A win for Tampa Bay coupled with losses by its closest competitors can give this squad the “push” it needs to finish strong and play meaningful football in January.
It can happen because in the National Football League anything is possible.
Courtesy of Sportsnet.ca