Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers roundtable: The biggest obstacle to the Bucs making the playoffs

At 6-5, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very much in the NFL Playoff picture as they play Sunday at San Diego. They are a half-game behind Washington (6-4-1) for the final wild-card berth.

Here's the Tampa Bay Times' Bucs coverage team's take on the biggest obstacle to the Bucs making the playoffs:

Keeping the takeaway train rolling

Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: The Bucs are living off takeaways. In fact, they have nine in the past three games resulting in three touchdowns and a field goal. Those normally come in bunches. Meanwhile, the offense has cooled off, scoring 19 points at Kansas City and only 14 versus Seattle. To have a chance to win the NFC South, they likely will have to four of their final five games.

They're just not good enough

Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: I picked the Bucs to lose their last two games and honestly enjoyed watching them prove me wrong. So, why stop now?

While the faithful pin their hopes on a squad that won at Kansas City and dominated Seattle, I can't escape the nagging doubts created in home losses to Los Angeles, Atlanta and Oakland. Adjustments and improved health have aided the team, but if they have to win four of the next five that makes this week's game a must win. On the west coast? Against Philip Rivers? Prove me wrong. Love the haters.

Beware the quarterback gauntlet

Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: There are three of them actually. Their names are Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Dak Prescott. Brees might be the toughest of them all, and the Bucs have to face him twice (Week 14 at home and Week 16 in New Orleans). He leads the NFL in completion percentage (71.5), passing yards per game (326.1) and touchdowns (30). In between those games against the Saints, Tampa Bay heads to Dallas to take on Prescott, the league's best quarterback, according to Football Outsiders' DVOA and ESPN's QBR.

Not quite there

Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: I have no real metrics, just a feeling that this team isn't quite ready to get over the hump and into the playoffs. They trail Washington by only half a game, but Washington's tie will be problematic. So the Bucs will need to finish at least 10-6, which means going 4-1, which means beating Drew Brees twice in three weeks, unless the Bucs plan one beating Dallas in Dallas. Not thinking an undeniably improved Bucs defense is up to that. San Diego is the beginning of a reality check. I'm thinking 2-3 the rest of the way, 8-8 overall.

Are the obstacles in the rear-view mirror?

Greg Auman, @gregauman: Could it be the Bucs' biggest obstacles to making the playoffs are already behind them? The losses Tampa Bay took to fall to 3-5 would normally be mortal for the Bucs -- of the 10 Bucs teams to make the playoffs, all were 4-4 or better after eight games. But there's ample precedent for 3-5 teams making the postseason -- the Texans, Chiefs and Redskins all were 3-5 last year. The Bucs, at 6-5 now, are far ahead of last year's Redskins, who were 5-7 before winning their last four. You like that?

It's the schedule, silly

Tom Jones, @tomwjones: I still think the Bucs best path to the postseason is to win the NFC South and that could be difficult just based on the schedule. The Bucs have games at San Diego and Dallas and those won't be easy. There's also home-and-home with New Orleans, which looked scary good last Sunday. The season wraps up with a final game at home against Carolina, which is never an easy opponent. So, that schedule is tough. But first-place Atlanta, which has a one-game lead, has an easy road because of games against the Rams and 49ers.

Comments
Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Just when you thought it was fun to be a Bucs fan again. Just when you were blissfully under the spell of FitzMagic. Just when the Bucs were becoming the cool kids in the NFL with the latest greatest show on turf.Just as the good times have arrived, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Buccaneers-Eagles All-22: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic could be real

Buccaneers-Eagles All-22: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic could be real

It’s just a mirage.At any moment now, Ryan Fitzpatrick will come crashing back to Earth. He’ll go back to being the Fitzpatrick of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Quarterbacks don’t t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs’ Ryan Fitzpatrick is NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week. Again.

Bucs’ Ryan Fitzpatrick is NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week. Again.

It's Ryan Fitzpatrick's world, and the NFL is just living in it.For the second straight week, the Bucs quarterback was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week.Fitzpatrick becomes the first Bucs player to ever to win that award in back-to-back we...
Published: 09/19/18
Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers backing away from letter demanding benefits

Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers backing away from letter demanding benefits

Add Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks to the list of players who have publicly disavowed specific demands and threats in a letter published Tuesday listing 21 NFL greats demanding health insurance and pension for all members.The letter threatens a boyco...
Published: 09/19/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston sued by Arizona Uber driver in alleged groping incident

Bucs’ Jameis Winston sued by Arizona Uber driver in alleged groping incident

  TAMPA — Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was sued Tuesday by the Arizona Uber driver who has accused him of sexual assault by groping her in March 2016. The woman — identified only as Kate P. in the federal court papers — is seek...
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18
Bucs announce social justice initiative

Bucs announce social justice initiative

TAMPA — Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson stepped out of his cleats and walked in the shoes of a Tampa police officer during a simulation training session Tuesday that was eye-opening."I was a police officer doing a regular (traffic) stop and I got ...
Published: 09/18/18
Lightning’s Alex Killion on his FitzMagic look: ‘None of us’ has his flair

Lightning’s Alex Killion on his FitzMagic look: ‘None of us’ has his flair

TAMPA — How big is FitzMagic? It has hit the Lightning, too.Proving that Harvard guys stick together, Lightning forward Alex Killorn showed support for fellow Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick by, sort of, dressing up the way Fitzpatrick did follow...
Published: 09/18/18
Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick files trademark application for ‘FitzMagic’

Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick files trademark application for ‘FitzMagic’

Enjoy "FitzMagic" while you can.Not because Ryan Fitzpatrick's days as the Bucs starting quarterback might be numbered once Jameis Winston returns from his three-game suspension.Rather, because Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick might soon ha...
Published: 09/18/18
Say hello to Major Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bucs QB and Civil War pen pal

Say hello to Major Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bucs QB and Civil War pen pal

You’ve probably heard about the #FitzMagic phenomenon by now, but are you following Major Ryan Fitzpatrick’s dispatches from the front lines of the NFL circa 1862? Months before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup-turned-temporary (but also ...
Published: 09/18/18
What do the Lightning’s Alex Killorn and Jimmy Fallon have in common?

What do the Lightning’s Alex Killorn and Jimmy Fallon have in common?

What do Lightning forward Alex Killorn and late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon have in common?Both have become smitten with FitzMagic.Killorn wore black sunglasses, a No. 14 jersey and a chain around his neck today while addressing the media in ho...
Published: 09/18/18