The Bucs play host to the Saints on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. PewterReport.com takes a look at the matchup and gives our thoughts and score predictions here.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-11) VS. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-4)
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 4:25 P.M. ET
RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM (64,428)
NETWORK TELEVISION: FOX
PLAY-BY-PLAY: JUSTIN KUTCHER ANALYST: CHRIS SPIELMAN SIDELINE: JEN HALE BUCS RADIO: 98ROCK, FLAGSHIP STATION (WXTB-97.9 FM)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: GENE DECKERHOFF ANALYST: DAVE MOORE SIDELINE: T.J. RIVES
LAST GAME: TAMPA BAY LOST AT CAROLINA, 22-19; NEW ORLEANS WON VS. ATLANTA, 23-13

PewterReport.com Publisher & Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
Well, this certainly won’t be Dirk Koetter’s last game as Tampa Bay’s head coach, according to Rick Stroud’s report yesterday and Koetter’s acknowledgement on Bucs Total Access that the Glazers have assured him that he will coach the Bucs in 2018. I’ll have much more on that in Sunday’s 2-Point Conversion on PewterReport.com right after the Bucs’ season finale against the New Orleans Saints. Stay tuned.

It will be interesting to see how many people show up to the game on Sunday as the start time has been moved from 1:00 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. to accommodate the NFC playoff race – the race that the Bucs have been disqualified from for about two months now. The Bucs vs. Saints game takes place on New Year’s Eve and will end somewhere around 7:30 p.m. unless there is overtime (God help us if that happens). Regardless of how late the game does end, you will have a new Pewter Nation Podcast to help ring in the New Year, so there’s that. Based on what I’ve seen on social media within the last 24 hours, the Glazers’ decision to retain Koetter for another year hasn’t been too popular, and I wonder how that will affect the size of the crowd.

On paper, this is still a Saints team that beat the Bucs 30-10 in New Orleans. The Saints have all the motivation of winning this game to claim the NFC South division title and get a home playoff game. The Bucs just want to win to snap a five-game losing streak and avoid going winless in the NFC South. They want to end the season on a positive note heading into the offseason, which is admirable. I just don’t think Tampa Bay has the horses to do it at this time.

I could list all of the things that the Bucs need to do to win this game, but you know they won’t happen. This team won’t run the ball effectively. This team won’t rush the passer effectively and put enough pressure on Drew Brees. This team won’t be efficient in the red zone. This team won’t win the turnover battle. They’ve failed in these areas enough to get to 4-11. So I’ll stay away from the X’s and O’s of this Bucs vs. Saints clash. If the Bucs win it will be the upset of the year in my opinion, and I would gladly welcome the surprise. Hey, I’m human. It’s going old writing about close loss after close loss after close loss after close loss after close loss. So why not another close loss for these fight-til-the-end Buccaneers?
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Saints 27, Bucs 23
Reynolds’ Pick To Click: QB Jameis Winston

PewterReport.com Editor and Bucs Beat writer Mark Cook
Every year I cover this team it feels like the season gets longer and longer. This one started out hiding from a hurricane, and ended with a bizarrely timed announcement that Dirk Koetter will remain the head coach. With plenty of drama in between.

Now to the game on hand. As Scott Reynolds wrote, who has really any faith this game ends any different than the last five? The Bucs will struggle to run the ball, struggle to protect Winston, struggle to pressure Drew Brees and struggle to get off the field on third down. That is what we are left with in Week 17.

I expect the Bucs to fight hard and keep it close. Jameis Winston wants to finish 2017 strong and he will be motivated to get off his personal losing streak as the Bucs quarterback. I have no doubt Winston and the Bucs offense will move up and down the field. But what will they do in the red zone? Hopefully not flame out as they have done multiple games this season.

While I admire the fight the Bucs have shown over the last few weeks, shouldn’t that be expected? Fans don’t pay 50 percent of face value on their tickets late in the season. Why should they see a 50 percent effort from the team? This team better fight. This team better show pride. This team owes their fans that at the very least. Effort doesn’t cost a penny. Effort doesn’t even need talent. 100 percent effort should be the bare minimum.

If I am Sean Payton I am going right at this defense with the running game. Ingram and Kamara over and over and over. The Bucs defense is a wounded bunch who haven’t been great against the run all season. This game means something to the Saints and means nothing to the Bucs other than pride. How much pride do the Bucs have? We will see on Sunday.

Give me the Saints in the last minute as the disappointing season mercifully ends for the Bucs.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Saints 31, Bucs 30
Cook’s Pick To Click: DT Gerald McCoy

PewterReport.com Beat Writer Trevor Sikkema
Well, here we are, the last game preview of the year.
The New Orleans Saints come into town with one goal: an NFC South division title. Due to the NFL being clever about not wanting a division champion to be crowned in the 1:00 p.m. games, both this game and the Panthers game against the Falcons have been flexed to 4:25 p.m. EST. That means both the Saints and the Panthers will be giving it their all for a win and a title shot, not knowing how the other team is doing at the time.
The Buccaneers have the chance to play spoiler – even though head coach Dirk Koetter says he doesn’t like playing a spoiler role for whatever reason. Last time the Bucs faced off against the Saints in early November in New Orleans, they were dominated in every facet of the game. Winston got hurt, Donovan Smith got hurt and Mike Evans got himself a suspension. All while the score was hardly ever in reach. With only more motivation for the Saints this time around, don’t expect them to let up on the gas any less than they did before.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston is coming off the two best games of his season against the Falcons and Panthers –albeit in losing efforts. It appears his shoulder is truly healthy for perhaps the first time since Week 1, and because of that, you have to think that the Bucs stand a better chance this time around. The key match up for me is the main man whole will be on the other end of what Bucs fan hope are a plentiful amount of good passes from Winston: Mike Evans. With DeSean Jackson out for most of the Falcons game and the entire Panther game, Winston started running the passing offense through Evans again. That has to happen again this time around, whether Jackson plays or not.
However, there’s an interesting element to Evans being the X-factor. Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore has been one of the best defensive backs in the league this season, and not just for a rookie. He held Evans to just 13 yards on one catch last time around, and was blindsided by Evans late in the game, a move that got Evans suspended the next week. Evans is 54 yards shy of his fourth straight 1,000-yard season. Lattimore has a chance to hold him under that.
The player that wins this match up will have the biggest impact on who wins this game – though, even if Evans bests Lattimore, the Bucs are still going to need an all-around effort to end 2017 with a win.
Sikkema’s Score Prediction: Saints win 21-17
Sikkema’s Click to Pick:  WR Mike Evans

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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surferdudes
4 years ago

If we get rolled tomorrow could the Glazers have second thoughts? If the stands are have empty with more Saint fans then Buc fans, and more boos then cheers, could that change things? Best news after tomorrow is the Bucs will have a top five pick. Just don’t trust Licht, and Koetter with that pick.

Devasher
Devasher
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

I imagine the Glazer Babies decision is not about what the fans want nor is about the current product on the field. Their decision is based on them starting out negotiations with Gruden and it not working out. I also imagine their penchant for firing HC’s after two years probably didn’t set up too much love from McDaniel’s or Patricia’s reps either. This is the story of ugly children not being asked to the dance because they treat their previous partners poorly and the one who is willing to take their BS (Gruden) is asking for the moon for their… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Devasher
4 years ago

I would not assume anything about negotiations between the Glazers and Jon Gruden …including that they are negotiating, or have tried to negotiate. But possibilities include: 1) The Glazers simply ran a test flag up the pole using their non-announcement “leak” from Licht to the media to see what the fan reaction would be 2) The Glazers are negotiating with Gruden, and letting the Koetter story leak was a way to put pressure on him to reduce his demands 3) The Glazers simply don’t know what the hell they’re doing …. which has been evident ever since the old man… Read more »

macabee
macabee
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Naples,

For your review and assessment. I have no interest here other than to hear your opinion as I always do. Happy new year!

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/21921030/oakland-raiders-preparing-pursue-jon-gruden-possibly-offer-ownership-stake

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  macabee
4 years ago

Yeah, Macabee, I saw that too. Maybe that is Gruden doing some of his own negotiating via the media! Or maybe Koetter really is staying and Gruden is going to the Raiders. We’re in a kind of “silly season”.

A lot can happen in the next week … or maybe nothing at all will happen except to start looking forward to next season.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

At this point I don’t care. I’m just ready for this season to go away.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Down the old Bucs memory hole, yet one more season. The Yuckaneers just won’t go away.

Pete Wood
Pete Wood
4 years ago

Bucs will win this game.

BucWonder
BucWonder
Reply to  Pete Wood
4 years ago

I hope you are wrong for the draft pick, but I fear you are right.

ahenneke
ahenneke
4 years ago

So if the BUCS win tomorrow, could they go from Draft pick #4 to pick #8 or #9?

JustaBuc
JustaBuc
4 years ago

I honestly can’t wait to see Scott’s next 2 Point Conversion. I have no idea if he’s going to dig his heels in hard or try to spin the past 3 months of his into some new light. This is all assuming they really do keep Koetter however. I’m holding my breath until Tuesday on that.

Either way, I hope we finish strong with a solid win over the Saints. Draft status be damned.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
4 years ago

Note – the PR writers keep writing about an “announcement” that Koetter isn’t getting fired. There has been no such announcement by either the Glazers or even by Licht. It was just a conversation with a media guy. Even if Koetter says it’s true, it’s still not an “annoucnement”. Nothing is on Buccaneers.com. The Glazers have not given a presser, neither has Licht. So is Koetter coaching his last game as a Buc? I dunno. Just remember that the Glazers told Greg Schiano two days before they fired him that he was out of a job. No “announcements” made until… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

correction – the Glazers told Schiano 2 days before they fired him that his job was safe. But he got “Schiano’d” instead. The same can happen to Koetter. Or even a month later.

macabee
macabee
4 years ago

On the lighter side. Old school Bucs HC John McKay following a loss was asked “what did you think of your team’s execution”? He replied “I’m all for it”! The Bucs game Sunday is being flexed from 1pm to 4:25pm. Using McKay’s analogy, the team is receiving a stay of execution. lol. That about sums up whether I think they will win this game.

However, I would never ask my team to lose. I would simply ask that they keep the 5th pick and select DE Bradley Chubb in the 1st round by any means necessary! Go Bucs!

Mike.Seven
Mike.Seven
4 years ago

It is interesting reading this article, they have it a close game, Bucs have shot at a low draft pick with loss and Saints playing for a better seed in playoffs: gee I wonder who will win! The sad thing about getting a lower draft pick is it puts a better player on a team with a management that has no intention of winning. Winston is 1st pick all the hope in the world and stuck on a team with small-minded coaches and owners. Sad for him also. If Glazers wanted to win they would not have hired coaches like… Read more »

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  Mike.Seven
4 years ago

Really flawed logic Mike.Seven. Do players and coaches make more money AND keep their jobs with wins? Do the owners make more money if the stands are full and not empty for all 10 home games? If so, I think the players will play their best, the coaches will coach their best and the owners will hire to the best of their ability and the results will reflect who had a better gameplan and execution. There is no conspiracy to lose games at the NFL level. Ask Gus Bradley who was fired last year, only to watch his former team… Read more »

Buc-Up
Buc-Up
4 years ago

Maybe they www any Gruden to sign with the Raiders so they can trade for him again…lol

BucWild02
BucWild02
4 years ago

Maybe the next personnel replacement the Glazers will undertake will be the fans. You can’t win with the fans in Tampa. They complain when the Bucs are good. They complain when the Bucs are bad. They want a new coach every two years. They throw tantrums on the daily. I can remember how many fans wanted Gruden fired when he got fired. Now you think you can just bring him back and win a superbowl? Lol. Newsflash: Since leaving the Bucs, Raheem Morris coached in the Superbowl last year. Greg Schiano won a National Title as a member of the… Read more »