Home » 2012 Bucs Midseason Awards Issue » Point – Counterpoint » Point-Counterpoint: Can The Bucs Make The Playoffs?
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November 9, 2012 @ 8:00 am
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2012 Bucs Midseason Awards Issue

Point-Counterpoint: Can The Bucs Make The Playoffs?

WRITTEN_BY Pewter Report Staff Pewter Report Staff
Pewter Report Staff


Pewter Report’s Mark Cook and Scott Reynolds debate the Buccaneers’ chances of making the playoffs in 2012 and what Tampa Bay’s record will be at the end of the season.
Point-Counterpoint: Can The Bucs Make The Playoffs?

Point – Bucs Have Positioned Themselves For The Playoffs
By Mark Cook

Scott, call me crazy, but I see a chance for the Buccaneers to make the playoffs – this year. It may be a slim shot and a lot of things would need to fall their way, but there is a chance nonetheless.

First of all, the NFC is fairly weak this year. At 4-4 the Buccaneers are only a half game out of the wildcard race with eight games remaining. The Buccaneers trail the 5-4 Seahawks and Vikings, and with the head-to-head tiebreaker they are a leg up on Minnesota if they finish with the same record.

So with Tampa Bay sitting at 4-4, they would need to go at least 5-3 over the last eight games to likely make the postseason. Is it possible? Let’s take a look at the next eight opponents.

San Diego is certainly feeling the effect of losing their downfield vertical threat in Vincent Jackson. The Chargers still have weapons offensively and the game on Sunday most likely will be another shootout. But with the Buccaneers playing at home, and feeling confident after winning two in a row on the road, the Bucs should take this one.

The Buccaneers beat the Panthers 16-10 to open the season and did so with an offensive that wasn’t even coming close to firing on all cylinders. The 16 points scored by Tampa Bay against Carolina was the second-fewest of the season. Ron Rivera could be in trouble in Charlotte.

Undefeated Atlanta is certainly the team to beat in the NFC, and perhaps the entire NFL. But there are chinks in the armor. It took fourth-quarter comebacks to beat both the Panthers and the Raiders at home this season, so it isn’t unconceivable that the Buccaneers could take at least one from the Falcons. The Bucs have a better chance at home than doing so in the 2012 season finale at the Georgia Dome.

Peyton Manning is back to leading the NFL is passing and the Broncos defense is getting better each week. This game looks like the toughest one on the remaining schedule, but it’s not impossible to think the Buccaneers could pull off a surprise in Denver and come home with a win. Tampa Bay has already won in two tough places to play at the Mall of America Field at the Metrodome in Minnesota and the Black Hole in Oakland.

Philadelphia is overrated and done in terms of making a playoff push. It looks like this may be the time for Andy Reid and Michael Vick’s tenure with the Eagles to come to an end. With the Buccaneers celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Super Bowl this game, expect a sellout and a big Buccaneers win.

Tampa Bay’s trip to New Orleans will be tough. The Saints have begun to climb out of the huge hole they created earlier this year, when they began the season 0-4. But the Buccaneers and Saints have split games the last four years, with the Buccaneers winning on the road two times. It won’t be easy, but a win in the Big Easy isn’t impossible.

The Buccaneers will celebrate with an early Christmas present and should take care of the Rams easily in the confines of Raymond James in the home finale. St. Louis showed some signs of life early on, but with Tampa Bay still in the playoff hunt in Week 16, the Bucs will have all the incentive to prevail.

Looking at these eight opponents I can easily see five wins Scott – the Chargers, one against the Falcons, at Carolina and the final two home games against Philly and St. Louis. That would put the Buccaneers at 9-7 and give them a shot at the playoffs.

And this is based on how the Buccaneers are playing as we speak. It is clear there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially defensively. There is no telling how much better the Buccaneers can get before the season. The one thing most around the league will agree with is the Buccaneers are steadily improving. With eight games left, why wouldn’t the improvement continue?

Scott, I know this season was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and without a doubt it is. But why can’t the Buccaneers dream big? Why can’t they capitalize on a better-than-expected 4-4 start to get to 9-7, or dare I say 10-6?

Looking at playoff picture it is conceivable that a 9-7 record would get the Buccaneers the final wildcard spot. People may ask, so what? How far can they go just barely qualifying and squeaking in? Ask the 2010 Green Bay team how far a No. 6 seed can go. The Packers won the Super Bowl despite being a sixth seed.

And Scott, I’d like you ask Greg Schiano which of the remaining games he thinks his Buccaneers will lose. I can say without a doubt he feels his team can win them all. Isn’t that what all great coaches should think?

Counterpoint – Bucs’ Playoff Push Will Fall Short In December
By Scott Reynolds

Mark, I love your optimism. It’s much more interesting to follow a team that is still alive for the postseason than one that is getting its butt kicked while losing 10 straight games to end the season. Oh how the 4-4 Buccaneers of 2012 are much different than that of the team a year ago that was also 4-4 at one point.

There’s an old saying in football that goes like this – offense wins games, defense wins championships. The Bucs have triumphed in three out of their four wins this year thanks to their suddenly prolific and high-scoring offense. In victories against Kansas City, Minnesota and Oakland, the Bucs offense scored 38, 36 and 42 points, respectively.

While Tampa Bay’s defense certainly helped the cause in the 38-10 win against a woeful Kansas City team, the defense was the main reason for the Bucs’ 16-10 opening day win against Carolina. But in three of its four losses this year, Tampa Bay’s defense has given up 24 points or more. The Bucs lost at home, 24-22, to Washington, and 35-28 at home to New Orleans, while falling at New York, 41-34.

Most playoff teams have great defenses. New England, Green Bay and New Orleans have been the exception to the rule over the years, but each of those franchises have Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks in Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees to lead the way and make up for suspect defenses. All three of those quarterbacks happen to be Super Bowl champions, too. While improving, Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman isn’t in that class yet.

I think the Bucs offense is good enough to win four more games by itself, but I have real reservations about Tampa Bay’s defense doing its part in the month of December against some of the NFL’s upper echelon quarterbacks. While the linebacking corps has been much improved with the development of middle linebacker Mason Foster and the addition of weakside linebacker Lavonte David, and defensive end Michael Bennett has single-handedly generated a pass rush, the cornerback position remains the weakest on the team in terms of experience and talent when it comes to depth. It’s for this reason that the Bucs will struggle in December after keeping things interesting in November with probable wins against San Diego and Philadelphia.

Yet even the Chargers and Eagles can’t be classified as easy wins because Philip Rivers and Michael Vick are dynamic quarterbacks that will be facing Tampa Bay’s 32nd-ranked pass defense. Without former starting cornerback Aqib Talib, who was traded to New England two weeks ago, and the possibility of losing fellow starter Eric Wright to a four-game suspension for Adderall if Jay Glazer’s report on Fox Sports was correct, the Bucs just don’t have the defensive backs that can effectively cover the likes of Steve Smith, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Eric Decker, Desean Jackson and others down the stretch.

If the Bucs were facing more Christian Ponders and Brady Quinns and fewer Mannings, Ryans and Breeses in December I’d like their chances of making the postseason. Instead, I see the Bucs’ winning a maximum of eight games this year and that means splitting the remaining contests with wins versus San Diego, Carolina, Philadelphia and St. Louis. That means Tampa Bay will lose at New Orleans, at Denver and get swept by Atlanta.

Mark, even if the Bucs won against the Saints or managed to steal a win against the Falcons, I’m not convinced that a nine-win Tampa Bay team could make the postseason. Remember that in 2010 the 10-6 Buccaneers failed to earn the final playoff spot.

I think the two wild card teams will come out of the NFC West (either San Francisco or Seattle) or the NFC North (Chicago, Green Bay or Minnesota) rather than the NFC South, and it hurts the Bucs that they won’t have the chance to get a head-to-head victory against any NFC West or NFC North teams down the stretch in what would essentially be a playoff elimination game.

Whether it winds up being seven, eight, nine or 10 wins, the Buccaneers will be a much improved football team in Greg Schiano’s first season as head coach. And a stronger-than-expected finish to the 2012 campaign will set Tampa Bay up for a playoff run – in 2013.

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 08:44

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  • avatar

    As I posted on the other article, I would be more than happy with a 8-8 and not making the playoffs. As I thought this team was no more than a 4 to 5 win team at the start of the sason. Next year is the year, with two top CB's, one in the draft and one in FA we will be in the playoffs in 2013.
  • avatar

    Check upcoming free agents - there isn't a top CB there to be had. And we just paid Eric Wright a TON of money. The team will not be major players in FA next year as it was this past offseason, especially when you consider our need to resign some guys. We are positioned well for that need for the foreseeable future right now. Going out on another FA spree would jeopardize that and would be pretty irresponsible. I'm not saying that we won't sign anyone at all significant, but don't go looking for a FA savior until we cut Wright once most of his guaranteed money has been made.
  • avatar

    After looking at the remaining schedules for competing teams with similar records as the Bucs', I'd like to make a few points. You can basically rule out Minnesota and Detroit because these two teams (especially the vikes) have what seem to be the toughest schedules in the conference. They'll be lucky to get three wins this half of the season. The Saints also have a pretty tough schedule with ATL twice, SF and the giants but with the way they have been playing recently, I find it hard to predict how they'll do against good teams. In my opinion, the biggest contender for the second wildcard spot (let's assume green bay or chicago will take the first) is Seattle. Especially being so consistant at home, they have a very weak remaining schedule and could win five more games. With that being said, I still think the Bucs have a shot at that sixth spot. Despite how poorly our pass defense is playing, they still come up with turnovers at critical times, which may allow us to come away with an upset win in a shootout down the stretch. One factor that was overlooked by MC in this article is that if the falcons keep playing the way they currently are, they should have the number one spot locked up. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think the last time they had the top seed they sat their starters on week 17, which would make winning in the Georgia dome very attainable. Although it kills me a little every week, I'm actually cheering for the falcons (with the exception of their games against the bucs) to win 13-14 games. If we can beat the Saints in the superdome and get a little help from ATL down the stretch I think we have a legitimate chance to contend with Seattle.
  • avatar

    this analysis is spot on man. it would help us if the falcons are say 14-1 going into that last game and just rest their starters verses us. we could easily get to ten wins then with just two losses down the stretch to the falcons at home and denver on the road. again, who knows what can happen any game, but besides those two i just mentioned, every other remaining game is "winnable". the seahawks are certainly the biggest threat. it's too bad we don't get to play them
  • avatar

    Definitely have to go with MC-- SR, I think, like the other posters pointed out, atl will be sitting their starters in the last game while we will be fighting for the playoffs. Also, SD and Philly are in turmoil while we are riding high and stable which makes a huge difference. 10-6 is certainly attainable! Amazing
  • avatar

    I think Scott is completely right. Our secondary is going to get TORCHED without Talib. Just watch. Maybe with Talib, Joseph, Nicks, and Clayborn all on the field we could make a playoff push.. But unfortunately not
  • avatar

    Let 's remember that the Patriots went to the Super Bowl with 32nd ranked offense. We just have to win the 35-28 games. We used to say give us 17 points we 'll win. Now we say if we score30 we'll win.
  • avatar

    I no longer doubt what the Bucs can do under Coach Schiano. Anything is possible because the players and most fans now believe in The Buccaneer Way. I am one of those fans that now believe.
  • avatar

    If Horse is a believer, I believe. But, just in case lets take them one at a time.
  • avatar

    I would disagree entirely Mark. I think the Bucs can actually WIN BOTH! against the Falcons. Call me crazy, but IF...Big IF here...IF they can win at home vs. Atlanta, there is a chance the Falcons could have home field advantage secured and rest starters the final week. Or at the very minimum, the starters play say a half or so...I think they both are winnable games.. Now..back to Earth....I still do not think the Bucs make the playoffs. I just do not. I think it takes at least 10 wins this year...It may actually be 11-5.
  • avatar

    Ugh, Seattle is going to get us in the end, but dAmn I hope I'm wrong.
  • avatar

    Nobody needs to be talking playoffs. There is a TON of work to be done, especially defense and special teams. Even if they could make the playoffs by some fluke, they'd be one and done. Continue rebuilding this team, draft smart, pick up a key free agent, and look to the future. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    I agree with Mark that it is possible, but Scott knows it isn't probable. I will be happy as long as we achieve 8 and 8 and that looks very probalble now. I am with Horse. I too believe in Schiano and these Bucs. They are fun to watch and they finally have an exciiting offense just like Schiano planned it from the start. The Defense is number one in stopping the run when they were dead last in that category last year. And we were very close to beating the Saints the first time around and they have knocked off Atlanta, so we do have a shot in beating both of them at least once this year. Should be fun to follow and this is a great year to play our nemesis Philly. I am loving it!!!!
  • avatar

    I agree with SR on this one. We are just leaking too much oil in pass defense.
  • avatar

    I think that there is almost no question that we CAN make the playoffs. To say that we have no chance would be foolish. One thing that is untrue is saying that we "need some help". If we win 5 out of 7, we'll make the playoffs this season. Looking at it on paper, I agree that our toughest remaining game is at Denver. I would be stunned if we win that. other than that, I think we have legit chances to win all of the remaining games. The road game at ATL looks scarier than it is as (1) the Falcons are not as good as their record and (2) they may be resting players with 12 or 13 wins+ at that point. I genuinely think we'll beat them at home. Assuming we win at carolina (not a given, but for these purposes, let's just assume), I think that our season will turn based on the result of that home game with Atlanta. If we win, we make the playoffs. if we don't, then we don't. That's my prediction. We also have to beat all of the teams that we "should beat", which, as we all know, isn't given either. Any given Sunday...
  • avatar

    I'm not trying to say that we ARE the 2010 Packers, but our team reminds me of them in some ways. We have a young QB coming into his own, ready to attempt to take his place among the game's elite. We have a pass defense that gives up a ton of yards and points but also seems to have a knack for forcing the key turnovers at the needed times. When talking about Josh Freeman, everyone, remember this - Aaron Rodgers wasn't in the class of Manning and Brady...until he was. Drew Brees was a SD castoff...until he wasn't. With Josh Freeman leading our offense and that opportunistic defense, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that we make the playoffs AND win a first round game in an upset. Big talk, I know, and perhaps a bit premature. But much like elite QBs who aren't elite until they are, the only way to be right on a ballsy prediction is to make it at all. GO BUCS!!
  • avatar

  • avatar

    Is there much chance that the Glazers would spend for another big FA signing this offseason if Tampa can't sell out its remaining home games? The fans need to step up and show that they are committed as well. This team is exciting, competitive, has a franchise QB and is in a playoff hunt. No more excuses.
  • avatar

    I did not see the Bucs winning 5 games this year. So I am satisfied. Next year we get an all-Pro and a Pro-Bowl Offensive lineman back. That sounds very positive to me. Can you imagine if the Bucs can go 8-8 with those two coming back? 2013 will have high expectations indeed.
  • avatar

    As long as we beat the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte sunday, i'll be happy as a lark. But, as i mentioned a few weeks ago, we are winning and losing games at the exact opposite from last season. Everyone look at last season after nine games and then look at this season after nine games. If, this continues we are 3 games into a 10 game winning streak.
  • avatar

    Mark, It is funny how the overall tone of a few or our usual participants on the site has dramatically changed since this past summer, when you and I last exchanged comments prior to the upcoming season in reference to the laundry list of things we agreed that the Glazer organization finally appeared to be doing right: coach firings/hirings, activity in the free agent market, smart use of the cap, good Draft maneuvering and renewed PR effort with the fans. It is nice as an old fan up here in Atlanta to see the ship starting to point in the right direction. Now hopefully, the fans will start to come back with a few more wins. The sports media up here in Atlanta is still very mindful of Tampa's talent and potential, you can sense their Falcon playoff-insecurity even with their current 8-1 record. I will be heading to Charlotte this weekend to watch them in seats unknown at the moment. Hopefully my trip is the canary in the Atlanta coal-mine if we can handle our business with the Panthers again like a team that is starting to mature a little bit. Go Bucs! You da Old Man Ronde!
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