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Three Burning Questions: Week 17 Edition

After a close win, what questions remain for the Buccaneers?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Whew, the Buccaneers avoided getting a lump of coal in the form of a brutal loss by beating the Cardinals 19-16 in overtime after Ryan Succop nailed a 40 yard field goal to win the game. That win may have saved their season and while it was not pretty at all, a win is a win.

Why Can’t the Offense Be Productive the Whole Game?

There have been multiple times this season where the game ends very similar for the Bucs. Offense is flat and completely lost for 50 minutes of the game, but then they turn it on and win the game late.

Sunday in Arizona was no different and was very similar to the games against the Rams and Saints, both being Bucs wins. They even came up short in a situation like that earlier in the year when they lost to the Packers in week three. Is it the no huddle? The sense of urgency? The clutchness of Tom Brady? I think it is definitely a mix of all of those things as well as Tampa’s opponent not being able to put them away too much so warning to any defensive coordinator, if the Bucs are down 10 with about seven minutes to go, you better buckle up.

Where Would This Team Be Without Ryan Succop?

Probably not very good. While he has struggled with long range kicks this year, Ryan Succop has arguably been the most consistent player on the team. Anything under 50 yards he has been very good at this year and it has saved Tampa Bay. It saved them Sunday night after Succop went 4/4 on field goals and made his only extra point attempt as well. Without Succop nailing these kicks every time the offense sputters (which is often this year), I’m not sure we are talking about the playoffs as a possibility for them right now.

How Will the Bucs Slow Down Carolina’s Rushing Attack?

This Sunday is the huge showdown between the Panthers and Bucs. For Tampa Bay, it is an opportunity to win the NFC South and be back to back South champions for the first time in franchise history, but the Panthers have won three of their last four and already beat the Bucs earlier this season.

Carolina has won these games by running the football extremely well which brings up the question of how is this team going to slow them down on the ground? The last time these teams met, the Panthers ran for 173 yards in a 21-3 win. If the Bucs want to win this one and be crowned champions of the south, they are going to have to do a better job of containing that running game. Could Vita Vea return this week? It is unclear if he will be able to or not after missing the last two games. It would be a huge boost to a run defense that has gotten better but will need to be on its “A” game on Sunday to send Tampa Bay to the playoffs for a third straight year.

The Bucs saved themselves from embarrassment last week and now this week have a chance to secure a playoff spot. We will see if they are able to put together a complete game and avoid getting swept by Carolina as well as having their playoff dreams severely damaged.