Monday, November 24, 2008

The Bucs Fan Thanksgiving Primer

By JC De La Torre

Wow, its amazing isn’t it? Turkey day is upon us already and we have our annual excuse to gorge ourselves on fowl, corn, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and all the other fixings that are traditional for your family. There’s one other meal that this certain Thursday on the calendar fulfills and that’s our appetite for NFL Football.

For Buc fans, Thursday will matter a little bit. Tampa Bay is currently 8-3, tied for first place in the NFC South. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Bucs would have a 1st round bye. The Bucs desperately want to hold on to the division title and that bye. It’s a lot easier to reach the Super Bowl by winning two games than three. Certainly, there’s been cases where the eventual Super Bowl Champions made it there by going through the wildcard round (our current champions are prime example), but its certainly an easier road to battle your way through a tough divisional fight, then get a week off, play a home playoff game – win it – and then play for the right to go to the Super Bowl. That’s the formula that worked so well in 2002 for Tampa Bay.

In fact, if you think about it, the similarities between 2002 and this season are uncanny.
  1. The Bucs lost the season opener to New Orleans 02 and this year.
  2. If the Bucs win the division and earn a bye, Atlanta has a darn good shot at making the playoffs as a wildcard. The Falcons were a wildcard in 2002 as well.
  3. With a win over Carolina on the road in two weeks, the Bucs will sweep the season series with the Panthers. The last time that happened? You guessed it – 2002.
  4. If the Bucs and Giants advance to the NFC Championship game, the Bucs will face a team in the playoffs that eliminated them the year before. The last time that happened? Yep. 2002.
  5. With a victory over the New Orleans Saints this week, the Buccaneers will improve to 9-3 after 12 games. The last time the Bucs stood 9-3 after 12 games? 2002.
  6. In 2002 the Buccaneers defense was a Top 5 unit but weren’t number one. The Bucs defense this year is a Top 5 unit – but they aren’t number one.
  7. This year Buccaneers faced their old rivals in the NFC North and swept them. The last time the Bucs swept the NFC North? 2002.
It’s like that horrible Jim Carey Movie, the Number 23, but you get the idea. To keep the good vibes rolling for the Buccaneers, they will be taking a keen interest in the goings on this Thursday.

Tennessee at Detroit 12:30pm EST– This game is essentially meaningless to the Buccaneers, other than hoping that our former buddies Rod Marinelli, Joe Barry, Jimmy Lake, Ryan Nece, Brian Kelly, Dewayne White, Kalvin Pearson, and the other Buccaneer alumni get off the snide and find a victory. On the other hand, the Lions inch closer to replacing the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the last team to go winless in a non strike year. Plus, if the Lions go 0-16 this year, they only need to start 0-10 next year to break the Buccaneers record of 26 straight losses.

Bucs fans should root for: Detroit, Rod’s to great a coach and guy to live in oh-mortality

Seattle at Dallas 4:00pm EST – Well, in a perfect world, the Bucs would win the NFC South and not have to worry about wildcard tie-breakers but we all know the Bucs have a tough slate down the stretch and could very well be concerned about wildcard positioning. A loss by Dallas to Seattle would help the Bucs chances significantly.

Bucs fans should root for: Seattle, another loss for Dallas gives the Bucs a bit more cushion between them and America’s team.

Arizona at Philadelphia 8pm EST – Buccaneer fans will find themselves in the unenviable position of rooting for the Eagles Thursday night. With the NFC North’s Chicago Bears a full two games back, the Arizona Cardinals (along with the teams in the Bucs’ own division) are the primary competition for Tampa Bay achieving a first round bye.

Bucs fans should root for: Philadelphia, Yes Buc fans, I know it’s difficult for us to find a way to root for success for any team from Philadelphia – but on Thursday night, we’ll need to do it. A loss by the Cards would give the Bucs a two game buffer for the bye week, saddle Arizona with another conference loss and allow Tampa Bay to simply concentrate on taking care of business within the NFC South, also giving the Bucs a little wiggle room if they stub their toe in one of the remaining divisional games.

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