The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic related to the Tampa Bay Bucs each week.

This week’s topic: If the Bucs win this week, can they run the table?

Scott Reynolds: No, I Don’t See A 9-7 Finish
The Buccaneers have gone on a five-game winning streak before during the 2016 season, which was Dirk Koetter’s first year as head coach. Tampa Bay finished that year 9-7 and one game out of the playoffs. But for the Bucs to finish 9-7 again this season and remain alive for postseason play it would take a six-game winning streak to accomplish that feat. That’s only been done one other team in team history, which was in 1999 with a pretty special group of Buccaneers en route to an 11-5 finish and loss in the NFC Championship Game.

No, I don’t see the Bucs continuing their two-game winning streak with four more wins to end the season. Is it possible? Technically yes, but it’s also technically possible for me to win the Powerball if I play the lottery. So it’s possible if Tampa Bay somehow defeats 10-2 New Orleans, which is the toughest opponent remaining on its 2018 schedule. But even with a victory over the Saints on Sunday that would be more improbable than last week’s 24-17 win over the Panthers, the Bucs would still have to go on the road for back-to-back weeks and notch wins over two playoff-hungry teams in Baltimore and Dallas, which both have 7-5 records, before returning home to face 4-8 Atlanta in the season finale.

Bucs LBs coach Mark Duffner - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs LBs coach Mark Duffner – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay’s defense has been phenomenal at home this year, allowing just 17 points per game, but the problem has been on the road, where the unit is surrendering an astounding 38 points per game. The Bucs defense has made huge strides under defensive coordinator Mark Duffner at home, but has yet to show improvement on the road, surrendering 30 points at Cincinnati, 42 points at Carolina, and 31 points at New York against the Giants. I’ll believe the defense has really improved when I see fewer points given up on the road. That’s the next hurdle for the Bucs defense, but the good news is that neither the Cowboys nor the Ravens have high-scoring offenses, yet both are balanced like the Bengals and the Giants were.

I just don’t like what it would take for the Bucs to make 9-7 in a reality, which is continuing to reduce turnovers on offense, taking the ball away on defense to win the turnover margin, sound coaching decisions by Dirk Koetter, and the fact that the Bucs have to go on the road and steal two wins. Keep in mind that the Bucs are 1-5 in the road with five straight losses. Can this Buccaneers team win out? It’s technically possible, but highly unlikely. I just don’t see this particular Tampa Bay team ending the season with six straight victories, which would match a franchise record, but I would love to be proven wrong. I think a 7-9 finish is more likely.

Mark Cook: Anything Is Possible … But No
To win six games in a row by any NFL team, is a very difficult task. There have been some streaks this season in the NFL, but they were by teams that are more talented and less beat up than Tampa Bay. While the Bucs’ win over Carolina was impressive, the Panthers aren’t the Saints. Not even close.

Hey, if the Bucs beat the Saints it would be great, right? While we don’t cheer one way or the other, our lives – and jobs – would be much easier if the Bucs finished 9-7. And there are without question, a lot of guys on this team you would like to see succeed because you witness the hard work they put into it. But wanting Tampa Bay to win out is something I just don’t foresee happening. Even if the Bucs beat the Saints on Sunday.

Bucs FS Justin Evans - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs FS Justin Evans – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

The thing that causes me the greatest concern is Tampa Bay’s defense. While the Bucs got four takeaways against the Panthers on Sunday, and recorded four sacks, to think they can duplicate that performance against Drew Brees and the Saints is pretty farfetched. New Orleans needs this win to try and keep pace with the Los Angeles Rams for homefield advantage in the NFC.

I just flat don’t trust this defense. The Bucs still have so much to prove before I could even entertain the idea of them running the table. I suppose if the remainder of the schedule were all home games then there would be a glimmer of hope, but they aren’t. And for whatever reason, this is a much different defense on the road than at home. Like a 20 point a game difference.

While the likelihood Tampa Bay runs the table isn’t very good at all, I do see a way that Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht can manage to stick around in 2019. But it really starts with Sunday’s game against New Orleans. Win that one, then beat the Falcons in the last game of the year, and all of a sudden the team finishes 7-9, two games better than last year. While the overall season would still be disappointing, a 7-9 record gives the Glazers something to think about, and I believe they give this group another year – with some possible tweaks to the coaching staff.

Even with a win over New Orleans on Sunday I just can’t believe the Bucs run the table and win at Baltimore, at Dallas and at home against Atlanta. And if Koetter and Licht do stay, you better believe the hot seat they will be on entering 2019 will catch on fire with a slow start next year.

Trevor Sikkema: Can They? Sure
If the Bucs win this week then absolutely they can run the table. Now, it doesn’t get any easier with their next two games on the road against two 7-5 teams that will also be fighting for potential playoff positioning in the Baltimore Ravens and the Dallas Cowboys. But if Tampa Bay can beat the New Orleans Saints, all bets are off.

I want to preface things by saying that beating the team with the No. 1 overall draft pick (San Francisco), beating a team that is limping towards the end of their season on a now four game losing streak (Carolina) and then beating the New Orleans Saints as they attempt to stay in the hunt for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs are very different things.

Bucs DE Carl Nassib - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs DE Carl Nassib – Photo by: Getty Images

The Bucs have been playing well on defense at home, but again, the Saints are a different animal. Plus, they’re coming off just their second loss of the season and have had 10 days to prepare for the Buccaneers. But that is also why I say if the Bucs can beat the Saints, then yes, they have a chance to run the table because that means they can beat anyone, given the day.

How likely is it? Well, the predictor machine gave them about a one percent chance to run the table two weeks ago, but so far so good. Winston will likely have to maintain his turnover-free campaign while ramping up the scoring to keep up with the Saints’ offense. That will be a telling tale, as will the fact that the Bucs defense will have to stay aggressive while not being as far ahead on the scoreboard as they’ve been.

It will take a gutsy defensive game plan and the game of the season from Winston to beat the Saints again this time around in Tampa Bay, all things considered. But if they can do it, you better believe their playoff hopes are still alive.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: [email protected]

22 COMMENTS

  1. PR.com going out on a limb and predicting that the Bucs don’t win six in a row.

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  2. If we played SF every week we’d have a chance. But we’re not so no we won’t win them all. In fact we might not win any of them.

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  3. And the beginning of the season I said I thought we would win 5 to 7 it’s on us we had no pass rush. Well we do now because the scheme was changed after game 6. I believe the Bucs will win 2-3 more games and that will be more than enough for this whole coaching staff to stay intact. Go Bucs!

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  4. As long as we beat the Cowboys, I’ll be ok.

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  5. Don’t see it happening this week. Beating Brees twice in one year is a bit too much to ask. As for the rest, I think we can beat the boys and the falcons. Baltimore will present a whole nother unique set of challenges.

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  6. They won’t win another meaningful game this year. FIRE KOETTER AND LICHT!!!!!!!!!!

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    • And in 2 years you’ll be screaming to fire whoever the new coach and GM is

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    • So, what is this “meaningful” game criteria? Is that one without an asterisk?

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  7. If we win 6 in a row and end up 9-7 we will be in the playoff’s almost guaranteed. Look at Was / Sanchez. No way they make playoff’s. Car, 4 game losing streak, Cam’s hurt, Olsen’s on IR, still play Saints twice. probably get beat by Browns this Sunday in Cleveland, There toast. Both will lose too many games to tie us at 9-7.
    We have the tie breaker on the Eagles and they will lose to Dallas this week. Everybody is saying Eagles are back but they just beat Wash with 2nd & 3rd string QB’s playing. There are not even close to the 2017 Eagles.
    Seahawks will beat Minn in Seattle (I believe) this Sunday and will most likely win the 5th seed spot.Sea still plays 49’rs twice & Ari.
    Minn plays Seattle, Texans & Bears still. We need them to lose two games of four.
    Bucs have to win 6 straight and get that 9-7 record though. We would most likely have to go to Chicago for 1st playoff game. GO BUCS!!!

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    • Maybe you should work for PewterReport… I liked your post the most… You have some optimism for the team and you stated what needs to happen for us to make the playoffs. Nice Post

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  8. There are some posters on pewter who never have a single positive thing to say about the Bucs. And, I gotta ask– why exactly are y’all following the Bucs?

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  9. The Question should never focus on can we win out or look at the streak we are on. For teams like the Buc’s each game is the season ask a real Pro like JPP. As far as I am concerned the Saints are the Super Bowl and should be our only objective for now. Would like to see Keith Tandy in our DB rotation this week.

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    • PS I like those red uniforms, seems like everyone is moving faster and Cam was definitely out of sync Sunday.

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  10. Of course logic says it’s highly unlikely that the Bucs win-out to finish 9-7. But they don’t have to face the next four foes at the same time. This week the only obstacle is the Saints. A team, by the way, who the Bucs have defeated the last two games they’ve played.

    With our defense fielding a back 7 with names we barely recognize, it may be a little difficult to stop the high powered Saints from scoring like Wilt Chamberlin. But, the mighty Bucs have an equally potent offense that is capable of at least keeping it close. And we now have a placekicker.

    Let’s not concede defeat to our division rival just yet folks.

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    • I like Scu’s attitude! We should always have fight vs a division foe regardless of what other people say is the likely outcome. The pesky Bucs have managed to beat Drew here and there… as a division rival should.

      As an aside, my biggest hated division rival is probably the Panthers. That early-mid 2000’s period with Delhomme, Deshaun Foster… And evil Stephen Davis always managed to piss me right off. But today’s toughest nut to crack is Brees. Let’s stick a thumb in their eye Sunday no matter what happens.

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  11. If they beat the Saints, I will start to get excited. Been burned too many times . . .

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  12. I think psychologically speaking for the Bucs (Coaches and Players) do not get caught up on we have to win 4 straight but just gameplay week by week and take every game week by week. Someone said it in the article that they need to just come up with a good gameplan for New Orleans and Winston needs to protect the football and make good decisions. Against New Orleans in particular, we need to capitalize in the red zone. If the D-line can put pressure on Brees and maybe create some turn overs, I think we have a chance in this game. If we do win this game, Baltimore and Dallas are 7-5 yes but neither one are juggernauts, which leaves Atlanta at home that is also winnable. Again, perhaps getting ahead of myself but if we play smart and can put points on the board I don’t see why we couldn’t stay on a roll and keep winning. Someone else also mentioned, we find it easy to harp on why we can’t win and keep losing but when we start winning, we still shift back to losing instead of commenting how we can continue to put W’s on the board….Perhaps that’s based on the fact that many in this tread are LONG TIME Buc fans and the curse like history that has plagued us….At the end of the day….This team can change that or at least has the potential to do so. It started 2 weeks ago and continues this week vs. New Orleans.

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  13. It’s a long shot. Some here would hate to see it happen they hate this person or that coach so much. Strange fan base. I’m not in love with Koetter and made that known when he refused to fire smith so long but as a fan you bet your Ass I want them to win always!

    Here’s how I see it. I give them decent shot at Saints at home but Saints are going to give us their best shot after losing an embarrassing game to Dallas. I hate Dallas and their offense is lame but their defense is very good. Therefore I give Saints the edge.

    Ravens will be very hard they are playing great D and Bucs D have stunk on the road. Still the QB is inexperienced and could throw us some gifts if we stop run and pressure. Edge to Ravens though.

    Dallas is tough at home. We can win this game and Dallas offense stinks IF you stop the run. Just not sure Bucs can stop the run with the injuries to LB etc. I give us little better chance than Ravens here but edge has to be to Dallas at home.

    Falcons are beat up too and I give Bucs edge here. We know the team well and can stop them I think with improved d line play we have seen.

    I would love to see Bucs keep Monken but if they fire Koetter that would be up to new coach and unlikely. Also love to see Duffner get shot next year unless a much better candidate comes around. Would have to be someone who’s considered great.

    Still on fence with Licht I guess if Bucs won 2-3 of these games I’d be ok giving him another year and see.

    Everyone assumes offense would go backwards with a new coach. I don’t see that with these weapons. They just need a little more consistent run game and O line play. Anyways what’s going to happen will happen and is fans are just along for the ride.

    Go Bucs!

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  14. Meaningful game means the Toilet Bowl last garbage fest of the year against Atlanta when both teams have nothing to play for but a better draft pick. That’s the only shot at another win and if we win that game its a loss for the 2019 draft. This team is garbage. The whole regime needs to go unless by some miracle they win out but that will NEVER happen. They’ve had enough chances.

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    • So does that mean the game against the Falcons will be the second “REPUS” Bowl?

      Seems to me the problem with some of Licht’s drafts has been more with the “who” than the “when”. Of course “why” is also an appropriate response to some of his selections.

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  15. The Saints are much better at home because they are a dome team and have loud fan base there. They are also vulnerable if their QB gets lots of pressure. With Vea, who they have not faced yet, getting doubled teamed again and still pushing back the opposing line JPP and McCoy should be able to hit their short QB and Nassib should get another sack and then Venny in relief too. Throw in some smart blitzes and you should see sacks, poor throws, and some interceptions by our off the street experienced Safeties. Having beat them in the dome you should see great confidence this time. Load the cannons and sell out our stadium. Expect to win. If A. Smith keeps hurting us with penalties and giving up sacks, our Offensive Coordinator needs to override Warhop and insert Liedtke at LT. Don’t let Benenoch play unless there is no other OL subs on the bench. Play E. Smith at RT. You should see higher YPR for our RBs when those substitutions are made. Go Bucs. Get aggressive!

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  16. To Little..To late. Koetters recent small improvement has been at the expense of the fans. All he had to do was Fire his road Dog..pressbox Smitty at the beginning of the season. And we’d already be further along. probably at least 3 more Wins by now. But No..So..Koetter must go down with..THE SHIP at seasons end. I got us finishing 6-10 or 7-9.

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