Rivalries are what keep sports fun, aren’t they? Think about it. As much as you may wish your team’s rival didn’t exist altogether, what would you do without them? What would college football be without rivalries like Michigan-Ohio State and Florida State-Florida? What’s college basketball without Duke-North Carolina? Baseball without Red Sox-Yankees and Cubs-Cardinals? Truly, sports wouldn’t be the same without rivalries.
So, as we reach the end of NFL Rivalry Week at SB Nation, it’s time to let you decide the Buccaneers’ biggest rivals. We’ve gone through the candidates all week, leading up to a final vote here at the end of this very article. But before we get there, let’s recap a week that’s been full of hating on other teams around the NFL.
(And, as the disclaimer has been all week, remember that this is all in good fun!)
Let’s recap the choices:
- On Monday, Evan Winter wrote about all there is to hate about the Carolina Panthers. He discussed how the “knockoff smurfs” (that’s a new one and I like it) have done their damage on the Bucs since the 2002 division realignment and dove into one particular game back in 2003, which saw the beginning of the end for three Buccaneer favorites—Martin Gramatica, Mike Alstott and Joe Jurevicius. There was also the matter of Simeon Rice being consistently overlooked due to the infatuation with Julius Peppers. Then came Cam Newton and a 12-6 run for the Panthers over the Bucs between 2011 and 2019.
“I hate their dumb panther growl during games. I hate their “Keep Pounding” motto, even if it’s really easy to make fun of. Their stadium is one of the coolest stadiums in the NFL and the panther statues outside are cool, but I still hate all of it. And the worst part about all of the hate is the fact that I hate them because they usually represent everything I want my team to be. Tough. Relentless. Nasty. Physical. Mean. Fearless. Whatever adjective that correlates to football with positive connotation - that was the Panthers over the last 18 years.”
- On Tuesday, James Yarcho went in on all the reasons to hate the New Orleans Saints. He talked about how, of the four Bucs losses during their Super Bowl season, two of them came to the Saints. There were early struggles in the rivalry for Tampa Bay, and that was before Drew Brees’ arrival in 2006. As Brees took New Orleans to new heights, the Bucs sunk to new lows. Since Brees joined the ‘Aints, they’ve won the division six times and the Bucs have won it once. But to be fair, they also lead the Bucs in bounty scandals, whiny coaches and sensitive receivers. Add in the wrinkle that could come with Jameis Winston potentially taking over as New Orleans’ starting quarterback to haunt his old team and you have very little love lost between the division’s only two Super Bowl-winning teams.
“And as long as the crybaby, melodramatic, “it’s okay if I put a bounty on Kurt Warner and Brett Favre but I’m going to throw a hissy fit and protest the combine and grandstand to have pass interference a reviewable penalty because my team lost to the Rams,” juicy fruit chomping jerk-wad Sean Payton is still coaching in New Orleans, I can’t imagine not hating them the most. Sean Payton is the worst. Michael Thomas is overrated. And I’m sick and tired of the Saints.”
- To round out the NFC South hate on Wednesday, David Harrison made a case for the Atlanta Falcons being the Bucs’ most hated rival. There have been plenty of situations involving coaching drama between the two teams. Sam Wyche and Jerry Glanville had their issues—which David highlighted—and there have been the more recent coaching changes as well. Former Bucs coach Raheem Morris is with the Falcons these days, as is Dirk Koetter, who went from Atlanta to Tampa Bay and then back to Atlanta. And of course there was Mike Smith who flipped sides a few years ago, too. But perhaps the biggest turncoat in the history of the rivalry came in 2003, when Rich McKay left Tampa after a rift with Jon Gruden and immediately joined the Falcons. As David wraps up his piece, he notes that there isn’t a ton of real hate between the two teams. But some Bucs fans may not agree.
“In recent memory, the hit on Mike Evans is about all I can think of to spark any angst towards this team, but if I’ve got three reasons to hate the Falcons I’ve got about 28 more to enjoy most of the memories I have between these two teams.”
- On Thursday, our staff dove into non-NFC South rivals that could be more hated than the Bucs’ three divisional opponents. While David Harrison and Chris Schoenherr nominated the New York Giants and Evan Winter chose the Detroit Lions, the rest of us went with the Philadelphia Eagles. You know why. Philly fans are Philly fans and the Bucs have had their issues with the Eagles over the years. Some of their best moments have come at the Eagles’ expense too, which is always good for creating some tension (even as recently as this past weekend). From James Yarcho:
“Yes, even eighteen years later, Reuben Frank is still so offended and such a crybaby that he had to write about the Bucs hosting a watch party for that NFC Championship game with commentary from Scott Smith and Ronde Barber. It wasn’t even a troll by the Bucs. It was simply something fun for the fans with never before heard insight by the man who ran 93-yards from Philadelphia to San Diego. Rent free in the minds of Eagles fans for the rest of time - and it’s because of the most bitter non-divisional rivalry for each of those squads and their fans.”
At the end of our staff’s roundtable, we put up a poll to decide the non-divisional candidate that would make it to today, the final day of rivalry week. And as of this writing, the Eagles absolutely ran away with that poll.
You’ve heard the cases all week—and you probably have some of your own, too. So, now it’s time for the final poll, which will decide the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ biggest rivals. Let’s go.
Who Are The Buccaneers’ Biggest Rivals?
This poll is closed
New Orleans Saints