Bucs look to end their season on a high note; while the Saints look to wrap up the NFC South.
The Buccaneers found another frustrating way to lose, this time to the Carolina Panthers. The Saints took one step closer the NFC South crown with their win over the Falcons.
Keys to the Game:
Ugh! Let’s just get that out the way to start. Tampa has found some truly tough and agonizing ways to lose games this season. There’s no denying that. This past Sunday’s game against the Panthers was just the latest example of that. Cam Newton literally fumbled the ball from the shotgun, alertly recovered it and took it in for the game winning touchdown. That’s a microcosm of the Bucs entire season. So close, but somehow it manages to slip away.
As a reminder, this Sunday’s game was flexed from its original 1:00pm start to 4:25pm. The NFL flexed a number of games this week that had playoff/seeding implications.
The Bucs have to find a way to put last Sunday’s loss in the back of their minds if they want to pull the upset in the 2017 season finale. Last week, Tampa held advantages in a number of statistical categories against Carolina. They outgained the Panthers by 137 yards on the day. Tampa also held a distinct advantage in passing yards holding the Panthers to a very pedestrian 140 yards.
The Buccaneers once again struggled with rush defense and with turnovers.
The Bucs were minus two in the turnover differential and were held to only 2.8 yards per carry on the ground. A lot of people were ready to anoint Peyton Barber as the team’s permanent starter, but he averaged a mere 3.9 yards per carry on 13 carries last week. One has to wonder, is this who Barber really is after seeing consistent action, or is this just an outlier?
The turnover bug once again bit Jameis Winston. Winston’s passer rating was very good last week at 131.1, but he fumbled the ball away three times. This included the costly fumble to end the game. Granted, there was only about: 30 remaining, but you only need a field goal to tie and crazier things have happened before.
The Bucs shorthanded defense will be tasked with slowing down the combination of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. A case could be made that Kamara is a front runner for Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. He has been nothing short of fantastic in his rookie season, so slowing him down will not be easy. Last time these two teams met, Kamara had a total of 152 all-purpose yards and two scores. Numbers like that cannot happen again if the Bucs want to have a chance.
Let’s not forget what happened the last time these two teams met. The Saints defense held Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson to a total of three catches for 38 yards. Another rookie standout for the Saints, Marshon Lattimore, shadowed Evans for much of the game.
That led to this.
Yeah, you can't do that Mike Evans. pic.twitter.com/3a0PDEWFvk
— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) November 5, 2017
Evans ended up serving a one game suspension for this hit on Lattimore.
Cooler heads will prevail this meeting, that’s for sure. The result will be no different though. The Saints are on the verge of their first NFC South title since 2011, while the Buccaneers are on the verge of a top five draft pick. Once again, Tampa will keep this game close, just close enough to give you hope that they’re going to win. Ultimately, they will lose and the 2017 season will mercifully come to a close. Now it’s time for all of the off season speculation to begin!
Final Score: Saints win 23-17
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