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BRACING FOR A BLIZZARD

With a mess of snow due in Philadelphia today, Bucs leave Tampa a day early.

The storm that is expected to dump 8-14 inches of snow on Philadelphia today and tonight forced the Buccaneers to alter their travel plans for Sunday's NFL wild-card game against the Eagles. Instead of flying this afternoon, the Bucs charter left at 9 Friday night and was scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia at 11:30.

Coach Tony Dungy said the team's change in travel plans was made at the behest of Northwest Airlines.

"Our preference would be to go (Saturday), but they're saying that if we wait until (then) we might not be able to land anywhere close," he said. "So we're going to go and get there and see if we can get there before the weather comes in."

Dungy said the biggest problem will be for players' families, who must adjust their schedules on the fly.

"My wife is going to be upset because I couldn't go see that movie with her tonight," safety John Lynch said. "Friday night is date night for a lot of guys."

No one believes the change to be a big deal, however.

"As (defensive line coach) Rod Marinelli says, it's all elevator music," Lynch said. "We've got a mission, that's what it's all about."

The snow is supposed to stop late today, but the Bucs should have an opportunity to break their streak of 19 losses when the kickoff temperature is less than 40 degrees. The high for Sunday's game is expected to be 34 degrees.

Dungy said the club will conduct its usual meetings and morning walk-through at the team hotel.

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