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Bucs Are In Their Endgame Now

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By: Bailey Adams

The fate of the Bucs’ season comes down to three games. They’ve stumbled to a 6-8 record through 14 games, but thanks to playing in a weak NFC South, they still lead the division by a game and control their own destiny.

There are three games left — and those three games are the Bucs’ last chance to make something out of this season. As tumultuous as this calendar year and subsequent season have been, Tampa Bay is in its endgame. Now, this isn’t the ultimate endgame that is the NFL Playoffs. The Bucs have to take care of business here first before even thinking about that. But if Todd Bowles’ team plays well in these three games, maintains its division lead and hosts a playoff game on Wild Card Weekend, anything can happen from there.

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

“The interesting thing is, it’s not like there’s a lack of confidence,” quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday. “It’s just a lack of execution and our ability to do it consistently, and I think the ability to do it is one thing but to do it consistently well has been a problem. There’s spurts where it’s been good and we can do a lot of things the right way, and there’s other times where we haven’t, which leads to where our record’s at.

“I think the point is, we’re 15, 16 weeks into the season, including the bye, and the whole season comes down to three really important games. And this is the first of the three and we’re going to go battle our ass off to try to make it happen.”

Tampa Bay will be in Arizona on Christmas night for the opener of this three-game stretch. It’s a big opportunity, as a win over the 4-10 Cardinals on Sunday night would get the Bucs to 7-8, plus it would set up the possibility to clinch the division with a win over the Panthers at home next week.

“Everything is still in front of us – we’re trying to win the division, we need to take care of ourselves,” Bowles said. “We don’t need to look at anybody else. We know what we have to do.”

As far as potentially winning the division with a 9-8 or sub-.500 record, Bowles said it doesn’t matter. He’s not wrong, to be fair, as Tampa Bay has just six division championships in its history, which began in 1976.

“They’re hard to come by. Any division you win, regardless of whether you’re 17-0 or whether you’re 4-13, you win the division and you have a division banner,” Bowles said. “Then, you try out for your next goal to get to the Super Bowl. Our first goal is to win the division, so we’re trying to do that. If we can win the division, then we’ll try and focus on getting playoff games and winning the Super Bowl.”

For The 6-8 Bucs, It’s About Moving Forward

Bucs HC Todd Bowles

Bucs HC Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs certainly aren’t where they want to be, at least not record-wise. Ideally, they’d have wrapped up the division by now and shifted their attention toward earning the top seed in the NFC and a first-round bye.

But the reality is much different. The reality is that the Bucs are fortunate that their division mates are having even worse years than them. That’s why Tampa Bay, at 6-8, still controls its own destiny. This team hasn’t earned that right — but that doesn’t mean it won’t benefit from it and do its best to move forward, play better ball and make some noise down the stretch.

“We can’t do anything about the past, so we’re beyond what we wish we could have been,” Brady said. “We’re at where we’re at. We wish we won every game, I certainly do, but we didn’t earn it. If you don’t earn it, then what do you expect? We’ve got to try to go earn it this week, and hopefully take all the lessons from 14 games and apply them towards this week.

“Going on the road, there’s times where we’ve done a decent job. The first couple weeks of the year we did a great job. We went to Germany and did a great job. There haven’t been many other times we’ve done a real good job of that. Some challenges just with Christmas and all that, but we’ve got to put them aside and go try to win a game.”

As frustrating as the Bucs’ up-and-down season has been, the next three games still afford them the opportunity to win themselves their second straight division title. From there, they’ll try to get hot at the right time and make a run toward their second Super Bowl in three years.

“Our whole season’s ahead of us. We’ve all worked hard to get to this point,” Brady said. [To] try to figure out how to get a win I’m sure would feel really good, but again, we’ve got to go out there and we’ve got to earn it because those teams are certainly not going to just give it to us.”

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Originally posted on Pewter Report