Yardbarker Horiz

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Playoffs? Playoffs???

(Jim Mora, the classic) Do no tune me out.  Give me a chance on this before you click away, OK?  Yea, it's just week #2 -- just take a moment consider what I'm laying out here.

 Continuing the trend from last week, here is the updated view of the rest of the 2010 schedule.  This week I've added the NFL.com expert consensus rankings (Tampa Bay is currently ranked #20):

WIN 17-14 Cleveland
WIN 20-7 Carolina 

Pittsburgh2-0  #5
@Cincinnati1-1  #12
New Orleans2-0  #2
Saint Louis0-2  #31
@Arizona1-1  #27
@Atlanta1-1  #13
Carolina0-2  #29
@San Francisco0-2  #23
@Baltimore1-1  #8
Atlanta1-1  #13
@Washington1-1  #14
Detroit0-2  #28
Seattle1-1  #25
@New Orleans2-0  #2

The remaining schedule continues to have a near-perfectly-even record of  13-15.

However, based on the expert rankings at this point (and I know they change every week), assuming losses to higher rankings and wins against lower rankings, the Buccaneers appear to be headed for an 8-8 record -- which usually indicates being a factor in the NFC Wildcard Playoff run!  Not that I would expect anyone in the Tampa Media to actually come out and say the team is talented.  But still, there it is!!

Obviously three strong team are lined up next for the Buccaneers.  Two of three are at Raymond James Stadium and two of three are against AFC teams.  Win all three, of course, and the Buccaneers are well on their way to one of the biggest turnarounds in team history.  But the "really extra big one" is the home game against New Orleans.  New Orleans is not only the lone NFC team in the next three games but is a divisional rival as well.  The playoff implications (future tiebreakers, division standings, division records) are immense.  The other two would be nice to have, but do not make or break (pardon the pun) the season.  If Tampa Bay can win at least one of the next three a 9-7 record is suddenly in reach -- which would virtually guarantee a least a tiebreaker for an NFC Wildcard birth in the 2010 playoffs.  More than one win in the next three provides cushion for unexpected injuries or poor performances (such a young team can mean a real roller coaster ride from week to week) later in the season.
So, as usual, I'll take the big step and make the big prediction. While others were predicting only 2 wins (see Quote Of The Week II) for 2010, I set the floor at 5 wins in 2010 on Week 15 of 2009.  Now I think 8-8 is within reach -- so move the floor up three notches!

Playoff implications in Week 3!  What could be better?

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