Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bucs Fan Guide to Bye Week Football

By JC De La Torre

If you're a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you're jonesing a bit this week as your favorite football team is not taking the field this Sunday. The bye week is here for Tampa Bay and the loss of Buccaneer football is being felt all over the area. Just know, you can still get your football fix in.

There are several games that significantly impact the Bucs playoff chances.

#1 New Orleans at Atlanta

This is a big one in the NFC South. The surprising Falcons are trying to stay in the divisional race with the Bucs and the Carolina Panthers, while the Saints are just trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Falcons have been a solid home team, going 3-0 with wins over Detroit, Kansas City and Chicago. This is the first of three straight home games for the Falcons. If the Saints can get the upset, both teams fall to 5-4, a game behind Tampa Bay in the NFC South.

Bucs rooting interest: Slightly Saints - if the Saints lose, they're pretty much done and that's not necessarily a bad thing for the Bucs - but a Saints victory would cool off the Falcons at home.

#2 Carolina at Oakland

The 1st Place Carolina Panthers travel cross-country to face the laughingstock that is the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are a mess, firing Head Coach Lane Kiffin in September and cutting one of their better players, DeAngelo Hall this week. The natives are restless, the team is doubting management publicly and its just an ugly, ugly scene. Meanwhile, the Panthers roll into this one with a 6-2 record and rested coming off a bye. With a victory, the Panthers would take their first of two winnable games the next two weeks (they have winless Detroit next week), giving them a buffer before they have to began the final stretch run where they face playoff contenders Atlanta, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Denver, and the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Many good East Coast teams have made the trek to the Black hole, only to be stunned by a stinging upset defeat. Carolina should win this game going away but as Chris Berman says, "That's why they play the Games..."

Bucs Rooting Interest: A Raiders Win - For obvious reasons, a loss by the Carolina Panthers drops them into a two-way (possibly three-way depending on Atlanta's game) with the Buccaneers.

#3 New York Giants at Philadelphia

This game is of interest to Buc fans because the Eagles are one of the teams the Bucs are competing with in the NFC wildcard race. A victory by the Eagles, puts them at 6-3, tied with the Bucs and Redskins, beginning a myriad of tie-breaker scenarios that we don't want to begin to talk about just yet. The Giants can do Tampa Bay a favor by slapping around the Eagles and keeping them a game back in the wild card race.

Bucs Rooting Interest: Giants Win - As stated above, to keep the Eagles at bay.

#4 Green Bay at Minnesota

The Vikings are the Bucs next opponent. Nothing could be better for Tampa Bay than for Minnesota to engage in a knockdown drag out division war with one of their most hated rivals a week before they come to the Ray Jay. After starting the season 1-3, the Vikings have heated up, winning three of their last four to climb back into the NFC North race.

Bucs Rooting Interest: A Good Game - At this point, it doesn't really matter to the Bucs who wins between Green Bay and Minnesota, what Tampa Bay is hoping for is a slobberknocker of a contest that will go down to the wire, draining emotionally and physically the Vikings before they make the long trek down from Lake Minnetonka to Tampa Bay. A lopsided decision either way would not help the Bucs.

So there you have it, your Sunday guide to the bye week. Hang tough, Buc fans. It's just seven more days until we're back at Ray Jay rockin with our Pewter Pirates. Don't forget to vote in our poll on how the Bucs will finish 2008.

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