Despite the disheartening result in Atlanta, Freeman’s Bucs are on verge of making the NFC Playoffs
“There are no consolations, no moral victories. There’s lessons to be learned every game.”
—Bucs coach Raheem Morris, after being in striking distance of a win against the Falcons.
If you aren’t interested in looking ahead, then stop reading right now.
However, if you feel that the Bucs were a couple plays from winning that road game against their division leader and that defenses have to pretty much commit interference to stop Freeman to Williams from being big, then read on.
Assuming New Orleans takes one of the Wild Card spots, the Bucs’ biggest contenders for the last spot are Chicago, Philadelphia and Minnesota.
Unless the Bears get a better pass rush and get their offense to be more effective, Chicago is going to be undone by their own schedule. If they lose at home this weekend, they fall to 5-4. Their next game is in Miami. For the last few years, the Bears version of the Cover-2 (which uses a lot of 3-4) has been exposed by elite receiving corps. Charles “Peanut” Tillman is a good corner but even he needs more help than the scheme often gives him. These match-ups of Marshall vs. Tillman and Bess vs. Jennings – along with the coaching match-up – make me think the Bears will lose that one, too. But, those two can’t even be compared to the rest of their schedule.
On Thanksgiving Weekend, they host the Eagles. The Bears have had success against Vick in the past, but not a Vick who can read defenses and make accurate throws. Detroit is going to play with a big chip on its shoulder, having lost that first match-up on a controversial call. Granted, if Shaun Hill isn’t back, Chicago could win that game but the rest of the games are no gimmes.
They are then at home against New England, going to Minnesota, welcoming the New York Jets, then going to Lambeau. The Bears won the first match-up, in part, because a block in the back wasn’t flagged on the Hester TD. The Metrodome is one of the noisiest places to play in and it’s difficult to believe Lovie and his staff will be able to pull off four games filled with bad-matchups and elite coaches. I predict 7-9 and no postseason for the Bears.
For the Bucs, they will go as far as Freeman takes them. As Martin Fennelly said in the Tampa Tribune, “Why is 5 not all over the four plays after the Bucs secured first-and-10 from the Atlanta 11-yard line on pass interference? Three handoffs and a lateral, not one end zone pass?”. The Bucs are a young team, learning as they go. One thing they need to learn quick is that you want to have the ball in Freeman’s hands with the game on the line. His maturation is going long ways to give this team confidence going into each game on the schedule.
I will soon take a look at Minnesota, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay’s schedules.