Up three games, Tampa Bay Buccaneers in rare driver’s seat in NFC South but have ‘long way to go’
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a rare driver’s seat. In the NFC South, they sit atop of the division with an 8-4 record and one game ahead of second place New Orleans Saints. However, their road to Super Bowl glory is not yet paved as there are still 12 games left in the season for them to play. With that being said, what does it mean for the team?
The “buccaneers game today on tv” is a team that has struggled this season. They are currently in the driver’s seat of the NFC South but have a long way to go.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers advanced to 8-3 with a road victory against the Indianapolis Colts last week, taking a three-game lead in the NFC South for the first time since Week 13 of the 2007 season.
The Bucs have one game left against the Atlanta Falcons (Sunday), one against the New Orleans Saints (Dec. 19), and two against the Carolina Panthers (Dec. 26 and Jan. 9), but barring a collapse, they should clinch the division, if not more, as they are currently tied for the NFC’s No. 3 seed and the NFL’s second-best record.
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In his last three games, quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown five interceptions. He’s averaging only 237.9 passing yards per game this season, his lowest total since 2010. They’ve had to rely more heavily on Russell Gage as a No. 1 receiver after wide receiver Calvin Ridley walked away from the club to work on his mental health. Last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he scored his first touchdown since Week 7.
They’re still having trouble disrupting the quarterback on defense. With 3.5 sacks, Dante Fowler leads the team. Deion Jones, a Pro Bowl linebacker, also missed the previous game due to a shoulder ailment. Although cornerback A.J. Terrell has improved from Year 1 to Year 2, the Falcons’ defense as a whole is allowing 27.5 points per game, which is the second highest in the NFL. They need more pieces in general.
The New Orleans Saints are a professional football team based in New (5-7)
After beating the Bucs in Week 8 after Jameis Winston went down with a broken ACL, quarterback Trevor Siemian has gone 0-4. Taysom Hill, his substitute, had a bad night against the Dallas Cowboys, throwing four interceptions in a 27-17 defeat on Thursday Night Football.
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However, injuries are wreaking havoc on more than just the quarterback position. On Thursday night, the Saints were without defensive end Marcus Davenport, running back Alvin Kamara, left tackle Terron Armstead, and right lineman Ryan Ramczyk, as well as wide receiver Michael Thomas and cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who were all injured.
Their defense, which was previously regarded as one of the best in the league, has also deteriorated. They had surrendered an average of 30.25 points per game in the four games leading up to Thursday, which was fifth highest in the league, compared to 18.29 points per game in Weeks 1-8, which was fourth best. Even with QB Tom Brady, they’ve outscored the Bucs 128-83 in four games over the last two seasons (including the 2020 divisional playoff), indicating that they can’t be counted out.
Panthers of Carolina (5-7)
After a 3-0 start, the Panthers went on a four-game losing run. They did manage to shock the NFL’s top club (9-2) in Week 10 when they defeated the Arizona Cardinals.
After Week 9, quarterback Sam Darnold was placed on injured reserve due to a shoulder issue. Before re-signing Cam Newton, the Panthers started P.J. Walker against the Cardinals. Newton took over as the starter in Weeks 11 and 12, but was benched following a terrible start in Week 12 against Washington, with Walker coming in.
Their offensive line has struggled this season, allowing 31 sacks, which is tied for sixth most in the NFL. Christian McCaffrey, the main center of Carolina’s offense despite all of their speed at wide receiver, is out for the season due to an ankle injury. This season, the Panthers are 4-3 with him and 1-4 without him.
They are allowing 21.08 yards per game on defense, which is sixth in the league. However, they gave up 198 rushing yards to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6, 190 to the Washington Redskins in Week 11, and 151 to the New England Patriots in Week 9. They’ve also reached a stage where coach Matt Rhule is benching healthy players, such as defensive lineman Derrick Brown, a 2020 first-round draft prospect, and an enraged Brian Burns, who exploded at teammates on the sideline against Miami.
Donte Jackson, a cornerback, was recently put on injured reserve due to a groin ailment. Stephon Gilmore, who was acquired midseason from the Patriots to help replace the void left by injured first-round pick Jaycee Horn, is seeing more action, although he’s still recovering from a quadriceps ailment and has mostly been utilized on third downs.
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The “raiders” is a team in the NFL that has been struggling. The Buccaneers are just one game back of them, but have three games up on them. They are currently in the driver’s seat for the NFC South division, but still have a long way to go.
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