The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t look their best coming off the bye week but they did more than enough to get the job done against the postseason hopeful Minnesota Vikings, topping them by a score of 26-14. Did it help that Dan Bailey missed three field goals and an extra point? Absolutely. Were the Bucs out there asserting their dominance against their opponent? Not at all. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a quality win for this Bucs team that is still slotted in to the sixth seed at the moment.
Let’s dive into a victory Monday edition of Pick Six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t ugly either. Look, wins don’t have to be dominant affairs. The Buccaneers don’t have to go out and win every game by forty points. They played a playoff-caliber opponent and they struggled at times. The Bucs saw Dalvin Cook attack them from all directions and have a lot of success early on in the game. The Bucs’ pass rush was in Kirk Cousins’ face all day but he found ways to complete pivotal passes - especially on fourth down - and keep drives alive. All that said, when it mattered the most, the Bucs stepped up and won a tough game against a team that is very much in playoff contention. Sometimes playoff games are about who steps up in the biggest moments. There are ugly moments throughout but in the end - does that matter? All that matters is coming away with a win. Were the Bucs lucky to win? Maybe a little, but they played well enough to earn a victory.
2.) Feed RoJo. Ronald Jones was the unquestionable lead back for the Bucs on Sunday and Leonard Fournette found himself as a healthy scratch. RoJo carried the ball eighteen times for 80 yards and a touchdown. He had key runs late in the game, gained tough yards and kept drives alive all while taking the pressure off Tom Brady. It was a nice change of pace to see them fully commit to RoJo as “the guy” and that he paid that faith back with a solid outing. More of that, please.
3.) Defense stepped up when needed. The Vikings were able to convert on their first four fourth down conversions. First off, the Bucs’ defense did their jobs to a certain extent, forcing fourth down situations to begin with. However, they were unable to get off the field on those fourth downs and the Vikings took advantage the first time around. Then, on their last drive of the game, and after converting two fourth downs, the Vikings faced their fifth of the game and Jason Pierre-Paul got to Cousins for the team’s sixth sack of the game while forcing and recovering a fumble to all but seal the win. It was a poor performance from the run defense as Dalvin Cook went for over 100 yards on the day, but in the biggest moments, the defense stepped up and made a play. That’s what has to happen for the Bucs to have success in the postseason.
4.) Looks like Mike Evans will fall short. Mike Evans is tied with his childhood idol - Randy Moss - for the most consecutive seasons to start a career going for 1,000 yards receiving. Unfortunately, it looks like Evans won’t hit that mark this year and he will stay tied with the all-time great. Evans sits at 669 receiving yards on the season. In order to hit that 1,000 yard plateau, he would have to average 110.3 yards per game through the rest of the season. It seems like a tall order and one he is unlikely to obtain - but in all those 1,000 yard seasons Evans has been part of zero playoff teams and only has one year with a winning record. If you ask him which he would rather have, Evans would surely opt for the chance to play in the postseason.
5.) Need some help. The Buccaneers control their own playoff destiny, but they need help in the seeding department. In order to slide into that fifth seed and face the winner of the NFC East, the Bucs need either Seattle to lose to the Rams in two weeks or the Rams to lose two of their final three where they face the New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, and Arizona Cardinals. It doesn’t matter which two they lose, they just need to lose two. Now, with the Saints’ loss to Philadelphia the Bucs still have a slim chance at winning the NFC South but they have to win out while the Saints lose out. And, per Greg Auman of The Athletic, the Bucs could actually come away with the number one seed. All they need (and stay with me here) is: the Saints to lose their last three, Rams lose two of three, Seahawks lose two of three, Packers lose two of three, and Bucs win out. Not likely - but there’s a chance.
6.) Enjoy the ride. The Buccaneers are guaranteed to not finish with a losing record for just the second time in the last ten years. They are in position for a wildcard spot. It hasn’t gone the way many expected it to, but all I can say is this - enjoy the ride. How many times over the last decade have you uttered the phrases, “just play meaningful games after Thanksgiving,” or “I don’t even care if they lose in the first round, just get to the playoffs,” or “I’m just sick of never having a chance.”? That’s all changed this year. They have a chance every week, they won’t have a losing record, and they appear headed for January football. What a nice change compared to the last decade of Tampa Bay Buccaneers football.
Six Numbers To Consider
23 - Bucs’ pass attempts on Sunday - their fewest in a game since playing Jacksonville in 2015
92 - Percent chance Buccaneers make the playoffs
9.5 - Sacks by JPP this season, most on the team
29 - Touchdown passes by Brady - tied for second most in a season in team history
27.5 - Sacks by Shaq Barrett since joining the Buccaneers
2 - Losses by the Vikings this season with time of possession over 39 minutes
Six Best Tweets
Scotty Miller is Desean Jackson in his prime fast pic.twitter.com/ZAF0aaJJYH— JC Cornell (@CornellNFL) December 13, 2020
This tweet was 1,874 days in the making. https://t.co/JOMVS5QsyC— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) December 13, 2020
It's almost as if the #Bucs shouldn't have completely forgotten about Scotty Miller the second they signed Antonio Brown— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) December 13, 2020
Next time we hear Bruce Arians say no risk it, no biscuit, remember him kicking a field goal on an untimed down from the one-yard line with that offense and the greatest sneak QB in the history of the game.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) December 13, 2020
Bucs' time of possession today (20:57) is the second-lowest for any winning team this season (in 200+ games). Only team that won while holding the ball for less was Seattle, which had it for 20:32 in ... a win against the Vikings in Week 5.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) December 13, 2020
Six Games To Keep An Eye On Next Week
1.) New York Jets at Los Angeles Rams - Long shot, but needing a Rams loss
2.) Seattle Seahawks at Washington - Wild card and NFC East/West division implications
4.) Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals - More NFC East and wildcard implications
5.) Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers - If you believe in that chance to get the one seed, you gotta root for Carolina here...
6.) Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings - More wildcard implications
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Kansas City Chiefs - Just unreal how good this team is
2.) Green Bay Packers - On fire at the right time
3.) New Orleans Saints - The loss to Philly was a fluke, but a loss to the Chiefs won’t be
4.) Pittsburgh Steelers - Good team, but seem to be coming back to earth a bit
5.) Tennessee Titans - Derrick Henry is an unstoppable beast
8.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Control their own playoff destiny
Six Final Words
Just Keep Stacking Up The Wins