The playoffs? Yes the playoffs is what is being talked about in the Bay area right now. The hype surrounding the Bucs is swirling like hurricane winds right now. The excitement is great especially for a team that hasn’t made the post season since 2007. The crowds should be electric with so many talked about games this season.
The same division foes will return to Ray Jay along with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and NFC heavy weights the New York Giants. With so many games talked about and anticipated there are games flying under the radar this year. These could change the course of the season. Much like last year with the wins over the Chiefs and Seahawks what games this year can do the same.
One game that strikes me is October 15th at the Arizona Cardinals. Last season the Bucs traveled out to desert for a week 2 showdown that ended in a 40-7 drumming. The run game never got going and Jameis Winston threw 52 passes which led to 4 INTs. Carson Palmer had 4 touchdowns and the Cardinals defense did their job and shut the Bucs down. If the Bucs want to be able to talk playoffs this is a game that needs to be answered back.
Will the run defense stop the Machine that is David Johnson and will the offense establish a rushing attack to then work the play action and hurt them over the top? With an opportunity to play the same team in the same spot early in the season again we will see just how much improving this team has done.
Another game to jump out at me is the Decmber 3rd visit to Lambeau Field. With all the hype on the Giants and Patriots games this is a huge game. The Packers have been one of the centers of excellence in the NFC for years now. With the opportunity to go to their house in a December game with playoff weather and atmosphere this can be a big test.
If you want to be the best you needed to beat the best and Mr.Rodgers and the prolific passing attack is certainly one of the best. To see how the team plays vs such a great team, atmosphere, and crazy weather will be good measuring stick as to where they are in the NFC pecking order.
The last game to really hit me is the week after at home vs the Detroit Lions. Why the Lions you ask? Because the Lions are a scrappy team always in the wild card hunt. If you want to make the playoffs in this league you need to beat the teams going after the same spot as you. Coming off of either a super high by beating the Packers or maybe last second heart break or a beat down it will be important to come back home with a clear mind.
Matt Stafford and the Lions always find a way to win games and be in the WC hunt. Finding ways to win games is what puts teams in the next level and playoff caliber. For the Bucs to do it late in the year would be a big boost to the playoff hopes.