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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gameday – Buccaneers ring out another bad year vs Saints

Roy Cummings



Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

 What: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) vs. New Orleans Saints (11-4)

 Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

 When: 4:25 p.m.

 Latest line/Over-under: Buccaneers +6/49

 Why you should watch

Dirk Koetter will be back as coach of the Buccaneers in 2018. The way his players have played for him the past month is probably one of the reasons. No, the Bucs haven’t won a game since November but they’ve lost their each of their last three by a field goal and their other December loss came in overtime on the road. That’s a strong indication this team has not quit on Koetter, so it’s worth a look to see if they can finish up with a win. Not only that, but Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has played three of the best games of his career since he came back from his shoulder injury four weeks ago and is back to being worth the price of admission all by himself. Oh, and then there’s that little bit of business regarding the NFC South title. The Saints can clinch it with a victory, but a loss could leave them as a wild-card entrant. This then is yet another chance for the Bucs to derail, even if it’s just a little bit, some team’s playoff hopes.

Key on: Bucs DT Chris Baker

 Baker has failed to consistently play at the level the Bucs were hoping he would when they signed him to a three-year, $15.75 million contract last spring. Making matters worse, he seemingly took far too lightly the consequences of the offside penalty he was slapped with on a key third down play in the waning moments of last week’s loss at Carolina. That led to a bit of a row inside the Bucs locker room after the game, which makes you wonder if Baker might be playing for his job today. The Bucs can actually cut ties with Baker after this year and not take a cap hit for it, so this may be Baker’s last chance to prove he’s worth keeping around for another year.

Statistically speaking

 Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans needs only 54 yards to become just the third player in NFL history to gain more than 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first four years in the league. Only Randy Moss and A.J. Green have done that previously, so Evans can join a truly select group with what for him would be just a so-so game today. Of course, this has already been something of a so-so season for Evans, who will log the worst statistical season of his career if he is shut down completely today. And that could happen. Evans is likely to be matched against rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore. The Ohio State rookie who limited Evans to just one catch for 13 yards and provoked Evans into a situation that cost the Bucs wideout a one-game suspension in the first meeting between the two teams has allowed a passer rating of 43.2 into his coverage area this year, the third-best mark in the league among corners, according to Pro Football Focus.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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