The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had won 13 of 21 games over the past year and a half before coming into yesterday's contest against the New Orleans Saints. Amazingly of those 13 wins, only one came against a team that finished the season with a winning record, or that had a winning record going into the game. That one team was the New Orleans Saints, who the Bucs beat in the final week of the 2010 season. But the Saints pulled their starters late with the game still in reach.
All throughout the offseason, the Bucs were hung out to dry for having a 10-6 record while never beating a winning team. They had played the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons close in two games, but they had also been blown out by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints early in the year. And through the first five weeks of the 2010 season the Bucs faced the same problem: they beat the winless Colts, the currently one-win Minnesota Vikings, and the currently 3-3 Atlanta Falcons. None of those teams had a winning record going into their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But that talk can now be laid to rest, as the Buccaneers beat the New Orleans Saints who had a 4-1 record going into the game. The Bucs can't control who they play, only how they do against opponents they do beat. Beating a good opponent for the first time in over a year is a step in the right direction.
Now the Bucs have to go to London to face the Chicago Bears, then come back and face the New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans after the bye week. The Bears and Texans are both 3-3, but their losses have all come against winning teams. Meanwhile, the Saints, Packers and Titans own a combined 13-4 record.
The Bucs have a tough road ahead, and will have to prove again and again that they can beat a good team. They're taking the right steps toward winning the division, but it will be a struggle to get there.