Following their Week 18 9-0 victory against the Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been crowned NFC South champions and clinched a playoff berth with the No. 4 seed in the NFC. Given the mediocrity of the division and their modest 9-8 record, most people have already ruled them out of any contention for the Super Bowl and believe they will not even make it past the first round of the playoffs. However, the Bucs have a chance to prove everyone wrong and have a pretty decent playoff run this season.
Let’s see why the Buccaneers could be contenders to win the NFC this year.
3 Reasons Why the Buccaneers Could Make It Far in the Playoffs
They Have Been on a Hot Streak
In Week 13, the Buccaneers sat in third place in the NFC South with a 4-7 record following a loss against the Indianapolis Colts and had almost no hope of making the playoffs. Since then, they have won five of their last six games, putting up good numbers along the way. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been the star of the show, recording 1456 yards with 11 touchdowns and throwing just three interceptions over that span, including a 381-yard, four-touchdown showing against the Green Bay Packers in Week 15. The problems on the ground seem to have eased up a little bit, as running back Rachaad White has tallied 431 yards over the past six games for an average of 71.8 yards per game, significantly better than the 559 yards and average of 50.5 yards per game he had recorded over the first 11 games of the season. It will be crucial for them to keep the streak going if they want to have a shot at winning the next few games.
Moreover, injuries have started to yield as important players who were previously listed in the injury report, such as wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, linebackers Lavonte David, Devin White, and Shaquil Barrett, defensive tackle Vita Vea, and cornerback Jamel Dean, are no longer listed in it. They will look to stay healthy and maintain the high level of play they have been displaying over the past few games.
They Face a Struggling Eagles Team
Even though their first matchup in Week 3 resulted in a 25-11 loss, the Buccaneers must face a Philadelphia Eagles team that has lost five of their last six games. Star quarterback Jalen Hurts has struggled over that stretch, tallying 1161 passing yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions. On top of that, he suffered a finger injury that took him out of their Week 18 matchup against the New York Giants and could prevent him from playing in the Wild Card Round against the Buccaneers.
The Eagles are not to be underestimated, however. Although they have been sloppy lately, this is a team that started the season with a 10-1 record and was often considered a real Super Bowl contender. Just because they’ve been on a cold streak lately doesn’t mean that this team is any different from what it was in October. The Buccaneers must bring their A-game and make no mistakes to secure a win and advance to the next round.
Any Given Sunday
In today’s day and age, no team in the NFL is unbeatable. The first, and so far, the only time we have seen a team go undefeated in the regular season and go on to win the Super Bowl was 51 years ago, when legendary quarterback Dan Marino led the unstoppable Miami Dolphins to a formidable 14-0 regular season, a 3-0 playoff run, and their first-ever title in the 1972 Super Bowl. In 2007, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots went undefeated in the regular season with an impressive 16-0 record but went on to lose in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants. If this tells us anything, it’s that even the best teams are prone to having a bad day and jeopardizing their season as a result. There’s no doubt the Buccaneers will be underdogs against any team they play, but we’ve definitely seen worse teams upset better rivals.
If everything goes well and there are no upsets in the Wild Card Round, the Bucs will face the tough task of playing against the No. 1 seeded San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round. It’s not a favorable situation by any means, but as we’ve seen before, even the best teams can be beaten in this league. If they manage to play at the top of their capabilities, we could be in for an interesting playoff run from this Tampa Bay squad. Keep an eye on them.
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