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The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.

This week’s topic: Can The Bucs Still Win The NFC South Division?

Scott Reynolds: Maybe, But I Doubt Bucs Dethrone The Saints

I’m going to stick with my preseason prediction, which was New Orleans winning the NFC South – again – and Tampa Bay finishing second in the division with a wild card playoff berth. Even with Saints quarterback Drew Brees missing between three to five weeks with broken ribs, I just don’t see New Orleans losing three of its last seven games, which is what it would take for Tampa Bay to take back the lead in the NFC South.

Saints QB Draw Brees

Saints QB Draw Brees – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The 7-3 Bucs are half a game behind the 7-2 Saints, but in reality, they are one and half games back because New Orleans swept Tampa Bay. The Bucs would need to win out and for the Saints to lose two games to pass them in the standings. But because Tampa Bay won’t win all of its six remaining games, New Orleans would need to lose at least three games to be overtaken. Even with turnover-prone Jameis Winston under center possibly aiding New Orleans’ opponents, the Saints have a very favorable schedule down the stretch with home games against the Falcons (3-6), Chiefs (9-1) and Vikings (4-5), and road games against the Broncos (3-6), Falcons (3-6), Eagles (3-5-1), and Panthers (3-7).

The bottom line is that Tampa Bay had its shot to dethrone New Orleans and got swept because the team got out-coached and out-played. Saints head coach Sean Payton is among the league’s best and will figure out a way to mix in Taysom Hill enough to help Winston out at quarterback, while leaning on Dennis Allen’s stingy defense. The Saints are a very good team, know how to win, and can weather the storm against lesser foes while Brees recovers. The best I see the Bucs finishing is 4-2 down the stretch for an 11-5 record, but that won’t be enough to wrestle the NFC South title away from the Saints.

Mark Cook: Take It To The Bank – Maybe

It won’t be an easy task, but it is a lot more possible than it was say a week ago after a humiliating loss to the Saints. I think Tampa Bay has a 50/50 chance now with the loss of Drew Brees for a few weeks. Of course all the Saints did last season was go 5-0 with Brees out of the lineup with an injured thumb.

Saints QB Draw Brees

Saints QB Draw Brees – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The difference was Teddy Bridgewater under center not Jameis Winston, and Bridgewater managed the Saints offense perfectly in relief of Brees. Can Winston do the same thing? With a solid defense and a tremendous running game, plus a great offensive mind in Sean Payton, Winston should be able to hold down the fort. But will he fall back into his bad habits of turning the ball over? If so, the NFC South is ripe for the picking for Tampa Bay.

The Bucs will also need to handle their own business, and not even concern themselves with what is happening in New Orleans. In fact, if I am Bruce Arians, I am getting the Bucs in playoff mode where every week is a one-game season. Tampa Bay needs to play with a sense of urgency, but focus squarely on just the opponent at hand. And lastly, it will also depend on how long Brees is out. Three weeks? Forget about it most likely, but if it is a longer stretch the Buccaneers can take advantage of the Saints misfortune. Oh, and Donovan Smith, see how quickly a quarterback can be lost with an injury? The line needs to keep Brady healthy and if they do that, I like their chances.

Jon Ledyard: It’s Gonna Take A Jameis-ing For The Ages

Maybe I’m giving Jameis Winston too much credit, especially after one of his 10 passes went directly through the hands of a 49ers underneath defender on Sunday, but I don’t think he can screw this up enough to derail the Saints from being division champs this season. The Saints offense is too conservative, and his playing time will be divided with Taysom Hill moving forward – even if it’s a 75-25 split.

Saints QB Taysom Hill and Bucs ILB Devin White

Saints QB Taysom Hill and Bucs ILB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Even if Winston struggles, the Saints’ schedule is just too easy, and their supporting cast too good and experienced to fall off their game-and-a-half lead for the division title, especially considering their competition. Over the next month, the Saints face Atlanta, Denver, Atlanta again and the hapless Eagles, while the Bucs battle the Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City, and the late-surging Minnesota Vikings, with the bye week sliding in after hosting the Chiefs.

Of those seven opponents, the Bucs face what is easily the toughest three, while the Saints can probably play a “B” or “C” game and win at least three of those four. I think the Saints will falter a bit, and could even get upset once or twice, but are the Bucs really going to run the table against that slate of competition? I’m high on this Bucs team, but that would be a special late season run considering the inconsistency the team has played with at times this season, as well as their current defensive struggles. I think the Bucs will finish the season just fine, but a division title still feels like a long shot to me.

Matt Matera: Saints’ Light Schedule Hurts Bucs’ Chances

While the Bucs are a half game behind the Saints for first place in the NFC South division, they’re technically a game and a half back having dropped both contests this season to New Orleans. Normally hearing that the Saints are playing its backup quarterback for potentially as long as a month would give the Bucs a good chance to gain ground, but the Saints are used to this, as Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 with New Orleans a season ago when Drew Brees was out. 

Saints QB Jameis Winston

Saints QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: USA Today

It’s funny isn’t it? We’re in the 2020 season with Tom Brady as the Bucs quarterback, and yet here we are talking about Jameis Winston again. Feels like old times. The big question is if Winston and/or Taysom Hill can keep the Saints afloat with Brees out like Bridgewater did. I tend to think yes, because of the upcoming opponents that Winston will face. We know Winston can be a roller coaster of a quarterback having thrown for 19,737 yards, 121 touchdowns and 88 interceptions as a Buccaneer, but the Saints offense is different than what he was playing in last season, and he won’t have to make as many complex throws. 

The Saints schedule is pretty favorable over the next four games playing the Falcons twice, the Broncos and the Eagles. That’s four games they are likely to win regardless of who’s at quarterback. The Bucs, on the other hand, have a much tougher schedule, facing the Rams, Chiefs, Vikings and Falcons over their next four games. Nothing is impossible, but New Orleans has a good enough roster to keep its lead going down the final stretch of the year.

Taylor Jenkins: I Wouldn’t Bet On It

Could the Bucs still win the NFC South? Sure, it’s possible, but I don’t think that it’s likely. It’s not because I think the Bucs will stumble through the finish line, and it’s definitely not because I think that the Saints are a significantly better team than Tampa Bay. It all boils down to the fact that the Bucs have simply shot themselves in the foot too many times this season already.

Saints head coach Sean Payton

Saints head coach Sean Payton – Photo by: USA Today

The Bucs fell flat against Chicago in Week 5, losing a game that they absolutely could not afford to lose in a neck-and-neck race with New Orleans for the division. And while they bounced back and crushed the Packers, a game in which they entered as one-point underdogs, they’ve lost when it mattered most. New Orleans beat Tampa Bay handily in Week 1 and then, after giving the Bucs an early advantage in the division with losses to Green Bay and Las Vegas, Tampa Bay answered back with arguably its worst performance in recent memory in their second game against the Saints. This allowed New Orleans to retake a narrow lead over Tampa Bay in the division and secure the head-to-head tiebreaker, should the two teams finish with the same record at season’s end.

With all of that taken into account, the Bucs also have a slightly tougher schedule down the stretch and one fewer game to make up ground with their bye week still to come in Week 13. Both teams have the Chiefs, Vikings and two games against the Falcons remaining on the schedule, but the Saints will likely be favorites in their other three games against the Broncos (3-6), Eagles (3-5-1), and Panthers (3-7) while the Bucs will face the Rams (6-3) and Lions (4-5.) So with New Orleans holding an extra game in hand and Tampa Bay needing to win the division outright, it would take a miraculous run through Week 17 – possibly needing to run the table – for the Bucs to win the NFC South. Tough to do.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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rlandsaw
10 months ago

can the Bucs still win the NFC South!!! is this really a question that needs to be asked?? REALLY!!! C’MON MANNN

BucNnole
10 months ago

Jameis is finally going to win the Bucs the division!

Naplesfan
Reply to  BucNnole
10 months ago

LOL! You win best comment of the week.

IDGABuc
Reply to  Naplesfan
10 months ago

100% agreed again! I Love it

IDGABuc
Reply to  BucNnole
10 months ago

LMAO 100% AGREED! Classic

eaustinyoung
10 months ago

Jameis is the exact opposite player of Brees and Bridgewater. He has poor field awareness, holds onto the ball too long to force the “big play”, overthrows his receivers while tapdancing. He threw 63 yards, 0 TD, an almost-INT, and was sacked twice in the 2nd half.

Brees and Bridgewater are exact, calculated, accurate, and strong in the short-game. They protect the ball above all else.

Never EVER underestimate Jameis’s ability to choke away a clutch game with an interception. Its absolutely not impossible.

Naplesfan
Reply to  eaustinyoung
10 months ago

Exactly.

Jameis Winston is like Teddy Bridgewater in the same way that Donald Trump is like Joe Biden.

gcolerick
Reply to  Naplesfan
10 months ago

Nobody I know wants to be like Biden….

Naplesfan
Reply to  gcolerick
10 months ago

You need to get out more.

Wausa
10 months ago

Unless you get the #1 seed in the NFC it may be better to be the #5 seed. Right now the Bucs would play the Eagles in the first round and the Saints would play the Rams.

IDGABuc
Reply to  Wausa
10 months ago

I think the Giants could still pull ahead in the East and win it with a 5-11 record! LMAO If you look at their schedules the Cowboys and Football Team (Washington! LOL) have the easier schedule but the Giants are playing the best in that division right now on a two game win streak. All of them have some tough opponents to play but that division sucks so bad it is all still up in the air. Anyone could win it. The Eagles are currently in the “lead” (LMAO) with a 3-5-1 record with the Giants in 2nd with a… Read more »

Naplesfan
10 months ago

The answer, of course, is “Yes!” the Bucs can easily win the NFC South. Win all or most of the remaining games, which is an entirely plausible outcome, and expect a Brees-less Saints to lose three of their next six games is a virtual lock. Listen, not only is Jameis Winston a terrible quarterback, but he is the diametric opposite of Drew Brees in play style. Either he will be forced to try and play a Drew Brees game of short completions – which is just not in the cards for someone with a sloth-like release and penchant for taking… Read more »

IDGABuc
Reply to  Naplesfan
10 months ago

I’d Love for that to be true about the Saints and Jameis this year, but, to me at least, I’m more worried that Sean Payton will be able to scheme his way to W’s using Winston and Tyson Hill closer to 60-40 or even 50-50. That way Winston MAY stop trying to play like he’s trying to win the game every time he drops back! Sean Payton is just very good at getting the best out of players and creates game plans giving whoever is playing QB their best chance to succeed. Maybe when Winston doesn’t feel like he has… Read more »

Pete Wood
10 months ago

As a wildcard the Bucs actually have an easier path in the playoffs. The first game will be against the winner of the NFC east, a team with a losing record. If Bucs win the division they are looking at hosting Seattle probably.
Don’t get me wrong. I want the Bucs to win the division, but there is a consolation price for coming in second.

PatrioticChief
10 months ago

You know the old saying if you’re not first your last? This year if you’re not first, pray you’re fifth. With the removal of the 2nd seed bye and the collapse of the NFCE the second best seed in the conference is going to be 5th. I understand it’s counter intuitive but short of having the best record in the conference I hope the Bucs stay right where they are.

Last edited 10 months ago by PatrioticChief
lambeau
10 months ago

Five broken ribs? I don’t think he’s back for the Eagles and they could beat Jameis. They’ll lose to KC, and it will come down to Christmas Day against the Vikings, who just might pull off a win.

Spitfire
10 months ago

Doesn’t matter. It’s all about the Wildcard spot now. As long as we can make it into the playoffs that’s all that matters. Even if we face the Saints again, the results will be very different the next time as long as Marpet is in or if we have the same setup as Sunday. We still have to win a lot of games but as long as we get in, we have a solid chance.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Spitfire
10 months ago

Home field advantage is much less this season due to COVID – but getting a bye and letting some players heal up an extra week can be a big advantage.

Horse
10 months ago

Brees will be back before the Playoffs, so I wouldn’t bet on it that we defeat the Saints. Lets just say we do meet in the Playoff and Brees isn’t playing, how manypoints did we score in the two games we played them? Their aggressive defense is much better than ours. You can rest assure Peyton has listened to Winston on how to beat us offensively and defensively. The only way I see us winning is if we get aggressive on both sides and play different schemes, and quickly adjust to their schemes faster than we have done in the… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
10 months ago

Five broken, not cracked ribs, and a deflated lung is potentially life threatening. Brees needs to hang it up. Stick a fork in him, he’s done. He’s already got a contract to go into broadcasting.

Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
10 months ago

Naplesfan; didn’t realize they were broken. Most definitely he won’t be playing.

JC
JC
Reply to  Horse
10 months ago

I couldn’t agree more. This whole this is just how we play is a great way to not win a superbowl which Bruce never has. The game plan against the saints was atrocious. Too many mid to deep throws with your best lineman out. This is probably the biggest point of contention between Bruce and Brady. Tom is used to a game plan offense attacking the weaknesses of the other team.

drdneast
10 months ago

The only difference between the teams two schedules is the Bucs played the Giants and resurgent Rams and the Saints played the injury plagued 49ers and the Eagles.
We shall see how Winston will do but in last Sunday’s game he sure was getting happy feet in the end zone.

bucballer
10 months ago

Let’s just win the next one! The rest will take care of itself.

drdneast
Reply to  bucballer
10 months ago

Couldn’t agree with you more. Also, I meant to say red zone, not end zone.

Buc-Up
10 months ago

Is this going to be another repeat of an Ex-Buc QB leading his team to a Super Bowl win? I hope not…LOL

surferdudes
10 months ago

I know there are teams you are supposed to beat, but that doesn’t always happen. Yeah we beat the Pants off the Pants, but the week before they took the champs to the very end. The Giants were supposed to be a cake walk this time, and they nearly beat us. So I can easily the Falcons upsetting N.O., this week. I can see them losing at Denver in crazy cold weather. No easy games in the NFL.

scubog
Reply to  surferdudes
10 months ago

I feel the same way Surfer. Nothing is a given in the NFL. Week to week there are always unexpected results. People see the Saints as unbeatable after the lopsided victory against our Bucs. Yet the very next week they defeated a weakened 49ers team only because the 49ers kept doing things to beat themselves just as we did in Week 1. The Bucs just need to take care of the Bucs and let the season play out. No need to start with the “what if” scenarios. Certainly don’t need to analyze the Saints’ chances. As Dorris Day would sing,… Read more »

Bradenton BucFan
10 months ago

we will see. a first round bye is the dream, possibly sending the saints home in the playoffs would be great also. whatever happens winning the Superbowl is the goal. We have a shot. MNF. Go Bucs

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