Four in a row. Yes, the once 4-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now 8-7 and one win away from clinching the NFC South for a third straight season. All thanks to the most complete, complimentary game the Bucs have played in the better part of two seasons.
Let’s festively Pick Six in this fun victory Christmas Monday edition.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) That’s Complimentary Football. The Buccaneers’ defense went crazy, getting two interceptions and two fumble recoveries - half of those courtesy of Antoine Winfield Jr. - and scored 21 points off those takeaways. That is the definition of complimentary football. Capitalizing off what the other side of the ball did. The offense was on fire yet again while the defense looked to be on a mission to prove they can be as elite as any unit in the NFL. Trevor Lawrence was under duress all game long and it wasn’t until the game was well out of hand that they got their first score of the game. It was quite the gift to Bucs fans.
2.) Devin White Makes A Statement. For a guy that had everything under the sun questioned over the last week - his attitude, his injury, his mentality, his selfishness - Devin White came out with his hair on fire ready to show the kind of player he is. The Devin White that played on Sunday looked like the one everyone remembers from the Super Bowl run and reminded them of the player we haven’t quite seen since then. This was arguably his best game of the season and might be his best game of the last two years - and it could have been even better had the referees not taken a sack away from him on one of the worst and most egregious roughing the passer penalties we’ve ever seen. Four tackles, 0.5 sacks, interceptions, forced fumble, and was all over Trevor Lawrence all game long. This is the version of Devin White that makes people believe he’d be worth a $100-million dollar contract - if they could know for sure that this was the player that would show up week in and week out.
3.) Baker Does It Again. Another stellar performance from Baker Mayfield, finishing 26-of-35 for 283 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. He was throwing players open, hitting receivers in tight windows, coming up clutch on third down, avoiding sacks and turning losses into gains. It’s not the least bit crazy to say that if the Baker Mayfield that has played the last two weeks is the one that shows up in the postseason that the Bucs could go toe-to-toe with anyone and come away with an upset or two. We’re seeing Baker become more comfortable while Dave Canales hits his stride as a play caller, opening up the playbook a little more. The chemistry between Baker and the skill players is off the charts right now.
4.) Antoine Winfield Continues To Shine. There’s no debate - Antoine Winfield Jr. is the best safety in the NFL this season. He’s ignored on fan Pro Bowl voting and he’s likely to get overlooked for the All-Pro, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone as good or consistent as Winfield has been this season. Added to his eye-popping play this year was a sack, interception, and fumble recovery against the Jaguars on Sunday. If there’s a play to be made, Winfield is generally right in the mix - or creating the play on his own. Pay him all the money he wants, but under no circumstances do you allow Winfield Jr. to hit free agency.
5.) Pay. Mike. Evans. Speaking of paying people, Mike Evans continues to be incredible. With six receptions on seven targets and 86 yards, Evans tacked on two more touchdowns Sunday, bringing his season total to 12 - making him the fifth receiver in NFL history with at least five seasons of 12+ touchdown receptions. The other four? Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, and Terrell Owens. What do all those players have in common? They’re all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mike Evans is that dude and he needs to be a Buc for life. Give him whatever he wants, just don’t let him leave.
6.) Looks Like Times They Aren’t A-Changin’. With the win on Sunday, the Bucs notched their fourth straight victory and are a win away from being one of only two teams in the NFL to make the playoffs each of the last four years. That means, Todd Bowles and his staff appear to be 99% safe to return next season. Maybe a lot of this year was growing pains of a first time offensive play caller while dealing with the cap constraints they had. Now heading into next season, we have players returning in systems they’re comfortable with and money to spend and make the roster even better. How quickly things can change.
Six Numbers To Consider
2 - Straight games the Bucs scored 30+ - the first time since weeks 13-14 of 2021
3.3 - Baker Mayfield’s touchdown to interception ratio, fourth best in the NFL
13 - Receiving touchdowns by Mike Evans this season, most in the NFL
1 - NFL player this season with 100+ tackles and 15+ tackles for loss - Lavonte David
6.5 - Sacks by YaYa Diaby this season, most among rookies
17 - Consecutive games the Bucs have won when finishing with a +4 turnover differential
Six Best Tweets
The nightmare before Christmas pic.twitter.com/wL96YGRroY— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 24, 2023
One of the best rotational players in the league if you ask me https://t.co/IXhHzizf0e— David Harrison (@DHarrison82) December 24, 2023
MIKE. EVANS. IS. HIM. Double coverage and he wins the jump ball. Bucs lead 20-0 pic.twitter.com/aaIHtTbpz5— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) December 24, 2023
WHAT IN THE WORLD: This was called a roughing the passer on #Buccaneers LB Devin White, all he did was sack the QB.— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) December 24, 2023
This is starting to reach a new level of INSANITY, the broadcast and rules analyst @GeneSteratore agreed,
Bucs have an 84 percent chance to make the playoffs, per the NYT playoff calculator. Basically their odds of winning one of their two remaining games. https://t.co/GanG4jWMLI— Greg Auman (@gregauman) December 25, 2023
Moments like these ♥️ pic.twitter.com/CmfjiP1oOi— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 24, 2023
The custom “Uncle Bake” jersey might be the most adorable thing we’ve ever seen...
Six Best Christmas Songs
‘Tis the season! As a fun little nod to the day, it’s time to drop my top six Christmas songs. You can feel free to disagree with me and be wrong.
6.) “O Holy Night” - Carrie Underwood
A gorgeous song from a gorgeous voice. Pretty much all of Underwood’s Christmas songs are phenomenal, but this one might be her best
5.) “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” - Thurl Ravenscroft
Everyone loves this one. A catchy tune with the flair of Dr. Seuss. Not sure anyone can say that this song stinks, stanks, or stunks.
4.) “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Not a lot of Christmas songs you can rock out to, but this one certainly is.
3.) “Rockin Around The Christmas Tree” - Brenda Lee
A classic, a staple, a must play on every Christmas playlist
2.) “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” - Andy Williams
He’s not wrong. It’s the time of year when we all consciously try to be a little nicer, more caring, more giving, and more loving.
1.) “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
For those that know me knew this was going to be number one - but I dare you to find a better version. From Max Weinberg’s drums to Clarence Clemons’ deep voice telling you you better be good for goodness sake, this is the best version of the most fun song.
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) San Francisco 49ers - Look like the runaway favorites in the NFC
2.) Baltimore Ravens - Huge game against my top team on this list Monday night. Super Bowl preview?
3.) Miami Dolphins - Won a close, gritty game against a good Cowboys team. Might be the spark they need
4.) Philadelphia Eagles - Couple rough weeks, but can get back on track Monday against the Giants
5.) Detroit Lions - What? How? When? Congrats, Lions fans. First division crown since the realignment in 2022.
8.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Only team in the NFL with a longer win streak is San Fran
Six Final Words
Wishing You All A Merry Christmas