Who had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the NFC South this year back in August? Anybody? Not me. And I’m a Bucs fan. I didn’t even have them winning it about a month into the season. But here we are at the three-quarter pole of the regular season and Tampa Bay is 7-5 and tied for the division lead.
How have they done it? Nobody knows because not too many have seen them play. The Bucs were on one Monday Night Football game early in the season when they beat the Carolina Panthers in a snoozer that most folks probably didn’t watch because the MLB playoffs were also on that night. They beat the Cam Newton-less Panthers on a last second field goal by Roberto Aguayo that may have saved his job because it was only his fourth make in eight attempts after being drafted in Round Two.
Their only other prime time game was a Thursday Night game at home where they were routed by the team they are currently tied with, the Atlanta Falcons at home which left them at 3-5 with a record of 0-4 at home. But since that loss, Tampa Bay is 4-0 with two home wins and two wins that would have to be considered upsets, a road win at the Kansas City Chiefs and a home win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Tampa Bay has two games left with the New Orleans Saints who are still in the hunt for the South title as well at 5-7 as well as a road game at the Dallas Cowboys and the season finale at home with the Panthers. The Saints games likely the big ones here. They probably will split the Cowboys and Panthers games so if they can win the two games with New Orleans they finish at 10-6. Atlanta has the easier schedule of the two with the Los Angeles rams this week, the San francisco 49ers next week, the Panthers and the Saints to wind up the year. None of those four are sniffing .500.
So can the Bucs win the NFC South? Probably not. But they deserve some major respect for making it interesting this late into the season.