The Buccaneers embarrassed the Lions to end a 13-year playoff drought. So how far can the team go in the postseason?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to make a bold move this past offseason. The team moved on from Jameis Winston and decided to roll with a 43-year-old Tom Brady. That decision is the best thing the franchise has done since winning the Super Bowl in 2002.
Brady threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns in only one half of football Saturday as his Bucs steamrolled the Detroit Lions en route to a 47-7 victory. The win officially ended the playoff drought and now the question is how far the Buccaneers can go in the postseason.
Are the Bucs true Super Bowl contenders?
The New Orleans Saints are the only team to truly slow down the Bucs this season. The Saints took both head-to-head matchups and the second came by a final score of 38-3. Tampa Bay’s other three losses have come by a combined seven points.
The 38-3 loss looks like an anomaly at this point in time. Brady threw three interceptions and the Bucs ran the ball five times for nine yards. It was a total disaster from the start and a 31-0 halftime deficit had Tampa looking ahead to the next game.
One key for a deep run is avoiding the Saints early on. The ideal scenario would be securing the No. 5 seed and taking on the NFC East champion in the first round. However, the NFC playoff picture is still up in the air in terms of seeding aside from that No. 4 seed for the East winner. Tampa fans need to root for a Los Angeles Rams loss Sunday to the Seattle Seahawks, as the Rams hold a tiebreaker over the Buccaneers.
Ultimately, the Buccaneers may need to play the Saints at some point to win the conference. Waiting until the NFC Championship Game is ideal considering the Bucs destroyed the currently top-seeded Green Bay Packers earlier this year.
The other key is getting off to a start like they did Saturday in Detroit. That is easy against such weak competition, but Brady and the Bucs did the same thing in that big win over the Packers earlier this season. They scored 28 straight in the second quarter and finished with a 38-10 victory.
The opposite end of this is the 27-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs back in Week 12. The Chiefs took a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and the Bucs had to play catch-up. They did have a 14-0 edge in the fourth quarter, but it was just too late after falling behind early.
One theme in all the losses this season is interceptions. Brady has 11 total on the year in 15 games. Nine of those have come in the five losses and he has double-digit picks in four of those games. What happens in the running game may not be as vital to success if Brady avoids takeaways.
Of course, the defense has to show up as well. The only real disaster games for that unit have come against the Saints, so once again that may end up being Tampa’s kryptonite in the postseason. But maybe they have made necessary adjustments in case they meet up again.
Brady playing at his current pace would make any team a Super Bowl contender. The Tampa offense is stacked and can simply outscore teams if Brady doesn’t turn the ball over. If he plays clean, there is no reason why the Bucs can’t be playing in February.