Don’t look now, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have quite the win streak going - and this one comes on the heels of the best offensive performance we’ve seen this season. From Baker Mayfield to Dave Canales to David Moore, the entire offense was firing on all cylinders. Now, the Bucs sit atop the NFC South at 7-7 and have gone a long way to improving their playoff chances.
Let’s Pick Six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Baker’s Big Day. He started off well, then had a bad play that led to a fumble recovery for the Packers inside the Bucs’ five-yard line, then he really dialed in. Baker Mayfield had his best performance as the Tampa Bay Bucs’ quarterback on Sunday. 22-for-28 for 381 yards and four touchdowns. It doesn’t get much better than that. In fact, Mayfield became just the third quarterback in NFL history to finish with 375+ passing yards, 4+ touchdown passes, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating, joining Nick Foles (2013) and Ken O’Brien (1986). If Baker continues to play with anything close to this level of efficiency, the Bucs are going to be a tough team to deal with.
2.) Godwin Goes Off. Many Bucs fans are once again thanking Chris Godwin’s wife Mariah for her Instagram post a few weeks back. In the two games since, Godwin has double-digit targets and on Sunday he turned those targets into big production. The Packers had absolutely no answer for Godwin, hauling in ten catches on twelve targets for 155 yards. 3rd-and-12? No problem - Godwin for 15. 2nd-and-18? Pffft - child’s play because Godwin just got you 21. He was as sure handed as we’ve seen him all season and was a huge reason the Bucs’ offense was clicking the way it was.
3.) Devin Drama. There were conflicting reports prior to the game yesterday regarding Devin White’s sudden unavailability and him being a “healthy scratch” against the Packers. Rick Stroud reported after the game that he was told even if White was active, K.J. Britt was going to get the start. Here’s what it all boils down to - Devin White is not going to be a Buccaneer after this season. In fact, he may not play another snap for this team the rest of the year. When reports surface that coaches and teammates are fed up with his attitude, it’s best to move on. Now, the Bucs shouldn’t cut him and put themselves in a situation where he’s lined up across from them in the playoffs - but he should inactive the rest of the year and shouldn’t travel with the team. Since he’s been out and Britt has been starting, the Bucs are 3-0. Don’t mess with a good thing by bringing in a guy that is upsetting other players as well as coaches. It’s not worth derailing the roll they’re on. From the trade demands to the poor play and now this? Bucs fans have gone from “Get Live 45” to “Get Gone, 45.”
4.) Rachaad Keeps Rolling. While he didn’t hit 100 yards rushing against one of the worst run defenses in the league, White still went for over 100 all-purpose yards and another score against the Packers. That means White has over 100 all-purpose yards in four straight games while scoring in five straight. He’s now only 166 yards away from 1,000 rushing yards on the season - a feat that will likely stun most fans given how bad the run game was for the first half of the year and how angry some still are at the dedication to the run game no matter the result. Getting White more involved in the passing game has unlocked a new level to the offense’s potential and recent results would say that it’s working.
5.) Road Ahead. So, here’s the scoop - the Bucs are sitting really pretty in the playoff race. In fact, even if they lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers, they still have a 92% chance to make the playoffs and a 74% chance at winning the division just by beating the New Orleans Saints in two weeks. Getting the win over the Packers set them up beautifully in the world of tie-breakers and while you’d rather not see them lose to the Jags and Panthers - and they’d be more than likely to at least split those two games - the Bucs have set themselves up down the stretch. And with Trevor Lawerence’s status for this week in jeopardy, the Bucs have a more than realistic shot at finishing the year on a six game win streak and going into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league.
6.) Nothing Is Secure, Yet. Just like how the playoffs aren’t a sure thing, neither is Todd Bowles’ future. Just because the Bucs are on a run right now doesn’t mean that what happened earlier in the year has been undone - and I wouldn’t put it past this team to look this good over the last three weeks then look as bad as we’ve seen for the next three. That’s been one of the big knocks on this Bucs team is the painful lack of consistency. Yes, if the Bucs make the playoffs then Bowles’ job is likely safe which would lead to Canales retaining his role as offensive coordinator and the return of Baker Mayfield next season. In the event of a 2009-level late season collapse, we could still be looking at house cleaning after the year.
Six Numbers To Consider
1 - Visiting quarterback in NFL history to have a perfect passer rating at Lambeau - Baker Mayfield
55.4 - Rush yards per game Rachaad White needs to reach 1000 on the season
62 - Yards per game Chris Godwin needs to reach 1000 on the season
5 - Straight seasons of 60+ receptions for Chris Godwin
4 - Touchdowns needed by Mike Evans for a new career high
7 - Total touchdowns by White since week 9, second only to Miami’s Raheem Mostert (8)
Six Best Tweets
Just putting the recipes together! Players do the “Bake-ing” ! https://t.co/fH0i4VDk5d— Dave Canales (@DcoachCanales) December 17, 2023
Idk how popular this will be with Bucs fans at this point, but it's hard to imagine Baker Mayfield not being Tampa's starting quarterback in 2024. If they beat New Orleans again it feels like a lock https://t.co/U9onem1os4— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) December 18, 2023
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) San Francisco 49ers - Only thing that could stop them right now would be multiple catastrophic injuries. That team is a unit.
2.) Baltimore Ravens - A healthy Lamar Jackson makes Baltimore extremely dangerous
3.) Philadelphia Eagles - Still think they’re the best team in that division, regardless of records
4.) Miami Dolphins - Call me crazy, but I trust them a heck of a lot more than the Chiefs right now
5.) Dallas Cowboys - Setback vs Bills, still a very good football team
12.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - All of a sudden, they’re a team to watch out for