In my previous article about the Carolina Panthers off-season moves, I made a comment about how many Bucs fans would pick them as the teams biggest rival and it got me thinking about whether or not I was correct in that assumption. Here is a quick case for each of the Bucs division foes.
-The long and short of it is the Panthers own the all time series lead (22-13) and are 21-11 vs the Bucs since 2002. The problem is the series has never really been competitive. Thirteen of the Bucs twenty two losses have come by double digits. Eleven losses have come in the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium and the Panthers hold two five game winning streaks in the series. Throw in the lightning rod that is Cam Newton and the ten losses since he was drafted in 2011 are that much tougher for Bucs fans to swallow.
-The Falcons hold the all time series lead 25-24, and the first game played between the two teams was all the way back in 1977, with the Falcons winning 17-0 in the Big Sombrero. Ouch. But, over the next 16 games before the 2002 division realignment, the Bucs actually had a 9-7 record agains their future division foes. After realignment, the winning continued to the tune of a 9-5 record over the next fourteen games, but then 2009 rolled around and it’s been downhill ever since. Over the last eighteen games, the Bucs have an anemic 6-12 record vs the Falcons and two humiliating defeats on prime time television. We don’t need to discuss those....ever. Moving on.
-While the Panthers are new rivals, the Saints are undoubtedly one of the Bucs oldest. Outside of their old NFC Central foes the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings, no other team has played Tampa Bay more often than the Saints. The first twenty games didn’t start well, as the Bucs stumbled to a 7-13 record in the new rivalry. Fast forward to the next twenty games from 2002-2011, and the series was split 10-10. Unfortunately, that parity has not been sustained since 2012. The Bucs lost six in a row, before righting the ship and splitting the last six meetings. Even though the Saints lead the all time series 32-20, the rivalry has actually been very competitive since 2002, with the Bucs only trailing 14-18 over the last sixteen years.
After breaking down the series history, I think I’m going to stick with my original thought about the Panthers being the Bucs biggest division rival. While the Falcons and Saints have a longer history with Tampa Bay, the results in the NFC South have been fairly even. The Bucs have simply not had that same competitive balance against the Panthers. That needs to change in 2018.
But what do you think? Who would you say is the biggest division rival and will the Bucs sweep them this season? Let me know if I’m right or have it all wrong!
Who is the Bucs biggest division rival?
This poll is closed
New Orleans Saints