The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked a great time to have one of their best performances of the season and are now moving on to the divisional round for the third time in four years. Following a dominant 32-9 win over the Eagles, the “Revenge Tour” makes its next stop in Detroit to take on the Lions.
Let’s Pick Six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Baker Was Baking. The sad thing is, the box score doesn’t even do justice to the job Mayfield did against the Eagles. He finished 22-for-36 for 337 yards, 3 touchdowns, no turnovers, and was sacked four times. His receivers also dropped more passes than any team in a playoff game since 2006 - but none of it mattered. Mayfield looked sharp, healthy, on target and had the offense buzzing from the jump. We’ve seen both the best and worst of Mayfield this season - and over the last two months its been more of the former than the latter. If he can continue to play like that - and his receivers can hold on to the ball - they can go toe-to-toe with any of the other seven teams remaining in the playoffs.
2.) Sorry, Pitchfork Gang. Todd Bowles isn’t going anywhere. Neither is Dave Canales. Monday night’s win over the Eagles solidified that they’ll both be back next season, regardless of what else happens this postseason. That also means Mayfield will be back and the Bucs are likely going to lock him up with a multi-year deal. Even during a stretch where the Bucs won five of six to end the season there were still plenty calling for the heads of Bowles and Canales or screaming for Kyle Trask to start over Mayfield. Well, hate to be the bearer of bad news for you, but this trio is entact for at least next season and maybe beyond. We’ve seen Canales, Mayfield, and the rest of the offense find their identity and jell with one another. That’s only going to improve with another off-season together and as these guys stick together. So - hop on board now or stay at the station. Either way, quit calling for the heads of the guys that got the Bucs to where they are.
3.) Mike Evans Is Due. Evans was one of the offenders of the dropped passes on Monday, even costing himself a touchdown in the process. Over the last few weeks, Evans hasn’t been the dominant force he was most of the season. Chris Godwin, Cade Otton, Trey Palmer, Rachaad White, and even David Moore have become more involved in the offense and as a result, they haven’t had to rely on Evans as heavily as they did earlier in the season. In the last six games, Evans has surpassed 50 receiving yards three times and hasn’t broken the 90-yard mark at all. He scored in only two games - one vs Green Bay, two vs Jacksonville - and he doesn’t have a single game with double-digit targets. This is both a good and bad thing. In the playoffs, you need your best players to perform at their best and he isn’t getting a ton of opportunities to do so. Then again, the Bucs have now won five of those six games and Evans hasn’t had to shoulder the load - so the additional contributions of others are making the Buccaneers a less predictable and more balanced offense. That said, the Bucs are going to need Evans to be Evans if they’re going to win in Detroit.
4.) Devin White’s Diminished Role. Devin White played only 44% of snaps while K.J. Britt played 56%. After the issue of White being a healthy scratch against the Packers, Bowles said that White and Britt would rotate - then White went off. and Britt went down. Then on Monday night we saw a heavy dose of Britt - because that’s what the matchup dictated. It was proven during the “Tush Push” when Britt leaped over the line and prevented Hurt from getting into the end zone for a two point conversion. Then on White’s opportunities, he created enough chaos in the backfield and pressure on Hurts that it forced early and bad passes. Both players played their roles to perfection and it made the defense stronger. Expect more of the same this weekend against the Lions. With Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery in the backfield, Britt will be the guy to try and disrupt the rushing game while White will come on with the sole purpose of getting to Jared Goff. Just have to hope it works as well as it did against Philly.
5.) Record Breaking Cade Otton. Something that I talked about a lot leading up to the Wild Card game was that the short passing game would be open for the Bucs most of the day, where Baker could get the ball out quickly to Rachaad White and Cade Otton. I fully expected White to be the beneficiary of that space the Eagles left, but instead it was Otton. He finished with a franchise record eight receptions - most by a Bucs tight end in a playoff game, breaking Rob Gronkowski’s record set in Super Bowl LV - for 89 yards. It could have been an even bigger day if not for a few bad drops - one, which would have been a tough catch and should have been flagged for defensive pass interference, that could have been the Bucs’ first opening drive touchdown of the year. Guess they’re saving that one for Detroit.
6.) Playing With House Money. Not many expected the Bucs to be here. In fact, they were off-season favorites to be in the running for Caleb Williams with the number one pick in the draft. Instead, Jason Licht masterfully navigated the roster with $81-million in dead cap, gave a former number one pick new life with a one year deal, stuck with a head coach that was able to put together his staff, and it all led to this. A third straight division title and a fourth straight playoff appearance. Then they get a playoff win and head to the divisional round. This season is an unquestioned success, regardless of the result this weekend. And that’s the beauty of it - the Bucs can play loose, free, and with nothing to lose. That’s a dangerous team to face. A team that knows they have a chance to continue getting their revenge for regular season losses. First it was Philly, now a shot at Detroit. If that goes well, maybe they get a second chance at San Francisco. Beyond that? A 50% chance they’d face an AFC team they lost to in the regular season. Those guys in the locker room want that, in a bad way. They want to show how they’ve changed since they faced those teams. That those haters and doubters that said they’d be one of the worst teams in the league just because Tom Brady walked out the door. Those players still there after winning a Super Bowl being told they aren’t any good because, apparently, it only takes one player to win a Lombardi Trophy. All of that is a driving force and motivating factor for these Bucs. Once again - this could be a dangerous team to face with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Six Numbers To Consider
1 - Quarterback in Bucs’ history with 300+ passing yards and 3+ touchdowns in a playoff game - Baker Mayfield
23 - Margin of victory, the second largest in franchise history in a playoff game, second only to the Bucs’ Super Bowl XXXVII win over the Oakland Raiders
3 - Straight wins over the Eagles in the postseason
0 - Third and Fourth down conversions by the Eagles on Monday night
56 - Yards on Trey Palmer’s touchdown, the longest touchdown reception in team playoff history
119.8 - Baker Mayfield’s passer rating against the Eagles, the second best passer rating in team playoff history (Tom Brady, 125.8, Super Bowl LV)
Six Best Tweets
Buccaneers fans are built different pic.twitter.com/dSbO3755Oq— Hard Rock Bet (@HardRockBet) January 16, 2024
What Aikman doesn't realize is that if Hurts would've thrown that slant to Julio, Vita would have dislodged Julio's soul from his body— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) January 16, 2024
KJ Britt says no to the tush push! Bucs lead 16-9 pic.twitter.com/nEfqvwyd4R— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) January 16, 2024
QBs under Dave Canales as QB coach, pass game coordinator or OC— Edgar Salmingo, Jr. ✌ (@PanthersAnalyst) January 16, 2024
2018: Wilson, 3448 yds, 35 TD, 7 INT
2019: RW, 4110 yds, 31 TD, 5 INT
2020: RW, 4212 yds, 40 TD, 13 INT
2021: RW/Geno, 3815 yds, 30 TD, 7 INT
2022: Geno, 4282 yds, 30 TD, 11 INT
2023: Baker, 4044 yds, 28 TD, 10 INT pic.twitter.com/z4iNlerJHG
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) San Francisco 49ers - Long layoff. Has rust set in?
2.) Baltimore Ravens - If the Ravens don’t win, rookie C.J. Stroud will have more career playoff wins than Lamar Jackson
3.) Detroit Lions - If they can match last week’s emotion and intensity, they could be destined for Vegas
4.) Buffalo Bills - Getting hot at the right time and ready to get the Chiefs monkey off their back
5.) Houston Texans - That was one good performance last week. Can they replicate it?
6.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Revenge Tour stop number two? Or is this where they exit?