West coast trip could turn season

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are sitting at 3-1, right where we thought they would be.  Of course, we all thought a win against the Lions to open the season would happen, but that the loss would come against the Manning-led Colts, but hey, 3-1 is still where we need to be right now.  The trip out to play San Francisco can easily swing our season one way or the other.  Sure, it's one game against a mediocre team but the timing of it and the mitigating circumstances make this an intriguing game.

The Bucs aren't great when making the trip out to the West Coast.  They did beat Arizona, but c'mon, they were led by Max Hall.  This 49ers team isn't Lombardi Trophy caliber, but they are more dangerous than the 2010 Cardinals.  A win here and the Bucs will sit at 4-1, guaranteeing a winning record heading into the bye with contests against the Saints and Bears (in London) still to come.  The Saints came will be difficult, as it has been the last few years, and while I don't want to predict anything, I wouldn't be ashamed if the Bucs lost that game.  The Bears game in London all depends on which Cutler shows up.  That could swing either way. Regardless of the next two games, this trip out West is a potential trap game with the short week and New Orleans on the horizon.  A win here continues to validate the work being done at One Buc Place and will get us one step closer to earning a playoff berth.

If the Bucs lose today, that drops them to 3-2 and could leave them staring up at .500 entering the bye week.  I noted earlier in the year the difficulty of the closing stretch of the schedule and that puts even more importance on this game today.  I think the Bucs are the more talented team, but will have to beat the West Coast bias, short week syndrome, and figure out how to move the ball against a decent defense.  A win today and we're either in first or tied for first in the division.  It also propels us to 4-1, right where we need to be with two tough games coming up before the bye.  A loss here by no means ends the season, but given the context of the schedule, we need a strong start to the season to help push us through the rough ending. 

The Bucs will take the field at 4:05 P.M. in San Francisco and actually be on TV.  Sander has outlined what you need to watch for on each side of the ball, so all thats left to do is grab a drink, some food, and fire those cannons.  The Bucs will walk out of San Fran today with a 17-13 win and head to 4-1 with a date against division leading (tied) New Orleans next week.

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