The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finish the season against the Carolina Panthers today, in what will be both the first game of 2017 and the final game of the 2016 regular season. The Bucs still have a tiny, tiny chance of making the playoffs, but it’s so infinitesimal it’s not really worth thinking about.
The Bucs, of course, have been preparing for the offseason, placing several players with short-term injuries on injured reserve and calling up a bunch of practice squad players. The Panthers have surprisingly done less of that, even though they actually have been eliminated from the playoffs.
Regardless, today should be a bit of a barometer of where each team stands, but not too much. Both teams have lost a lot of players to injury this season, and neither really has anything except pride to play for — usually, those kind of season-ending matchups just end up being fairly boring and bloodless.
Ultimately, I think this will be another loss for the Bucs. A three-game losing streak to end the season would be appropriately depressing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though not ultimately all that meaningful. A somewhat boring, uneventful 27-17 loss seems about right.
What’s your prediction?