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honor roll

Greg Auman, @gregauman Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics Martin Fennelly, @mfennelly Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you Tom Jones, @tomwjones Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud
Biggest reason to believe in the Bucs … Confidence and momentum. Bucs have waited long for this opportunity. The Bucs are doing a better job protecting Jameis Winston. Winston. It's the home stretch and he is feeling it. The Winner-His-Whole-Life thing is kicking in. The Bucs' hopes begin and end with Jameis Winston. This is a team that used to find way to lose games. Now it is finding ways to win them. Winston's leadership. He's backing it up with performance.
Biggest reason to doubt the Bucs … Bucs have to maintain this high level in unfamiliar territory. Their lack of depth, particularly at receiver. Recent history. No playoffs since 2007. Despite recent improvements, the secondary remains frighteningly vulnerable. The offense hasn't been as great as you might think and they'll need offense in the coming weeks. The Bucs' remaining schedule is much tougher than Atlanta's.
The Bucs will make the playoffs if … They sweep the Saints, who have a terrible defense. Very simple. They win three of four and continue playing good complementary football. They beat the Saints twice. They overcome the wizardry of Drew Brees. They get help from an unlikely source: somebody on Atlanta's schedule. They win three of their next four games and don't suffer any significant injuries.
Favorite Famous Jameis moment? Easy, but the spin and throw to Evans vs. Bears. First two drives vs. Seahawks, both of which resulted in touchdowns. The Letter. I still marvel at Winston's 30-yard TD pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the season opener. The scramble Hail Jameis throw to Mike Evans in the Chicago game. At 3-5, Winston standing defiant and saying, "I'm not a loser. We're winners in this building."
Unsung Buc of the Year So many choices, but I'll go with tight end Cameron Brate. The other kicker: punter Bryan Anger. Cameron Brate. We've sung about him some, but I still don't think we understand just how much he has meant to this offense. Robert Ayers has 12 tackles and 41/2 sacks during the team's four-game winning streak. Cameron Brate, who has turned the loss of Austin Seferian-Jenkins into a forgotten moment. Punter Bryan Anger. Seventh in net, sixth inside the 20.
Grade Dirk Koetter Given the injuries and turnaround from 3-5, a solid A. B-. Early game management blunders behind him, Koetter has Bucs in the hunt. B. The man has been coming on like a locomotive. B - Koetter righted the ship after consecutive losses could have devastated this team. B. He has gone from possible hot seat to coach-of-the-year candidate. B. At 7-5, from worst to tied for first in NFC South.
I was most wrong about … The Bucs' confidence in sticking with safeties McDougald and Conte. The past four weeks. Take me with you to Las Vegas, and do the opposite of what I say. Mike Smith being over the hill as defensive coordinator. The Kansas City/Seattle/San Diego span turning disastrous. Well, this entire team. No way I saw a winning season. The Bucs defense. I didn't see this turnaround coming. Not after giving up more than 1,000 yards against the Raiders and Falcons.
I'm still right about … Jay Hayes was a great hire for Bucs' pass rush. Don't trade up to draft a kicker in the second round. Not taking a kicker in the second round of the draft. They're just not that good. Jameis Winston. The guy can flat-out play. Jameis Winston being the real deal and a franchise quarterback.

honor roll 12/06/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 8:48pm]
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