Remember that Super Bowl? The Pirate Bowl. Or the Gruden Bowl. It was a Super Bowl for the ages. Gruden became the youngest head coach ever to win a Super Bowl, Dexter Jackson got the game’s MVP award which was pretty unique seeing that he was a Safety. And, finally, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, and Derrick Brooks got their validation as super star hall of famers with a Super Bowl ring. Since then? The Raiders became the first team in NFL history to have 7 straight seasons with at least 11 losses. They also went undefeated in the AFC West (6-0) in 2010, but still finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. The Bucs have not fared much better. They have been to the playoffs twice since the Super Bowl and had a 10 win playoff-less season in 2010. But, for the most part, it’s been a chaotic decade filled with bad drafts, questionable QBs, and 3 head coaches.
The Bucs, unlike the Raiders, seem to be on the right track towards an overhaul. The money spent in the offseason, the cleansing of the team (LOVE the Talib trade, to heck with Tanard Jackson and Kellen Winslow), and the progression of Josh Freeman’s ability and relationship with the WR core have all been good signs. The Raiders… good God Almighty it would be hard to be a fan. Here are my 3 key points for the Bucs in this game.
TALIB IS GONE! This closes the book on a HORRIBLE 2008 draft class. Just take a look at this article http://www.joebucsfan.com/?p=77046 and if you don’t already, follow @joebucsfan on twitter. He always is supplying me with some trinket of Buccaneer wisdom. Anyway, back to me and my article. With Talib gone and Eric Wright facing suspension, where does the secondary go? It appears Eric Wright will play on Sunday. I wish his looming suspension would have started on Sunday as the Bucs probably won’t need him against the oh-so dangerous Raiders offense. That being said, I believe E.J. Biggers and Eric Wright will have no trouble keeping Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore under wraps. I would be extremely surprised if Carson Palmer threw a TD in this ball game. Whenever Eric Wright does get suspended, expect Ronde Barber to make a return to CB and Cody Grimm to get some more snaps in at Safety… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just not moving forward, the only direction Coach Schiano wants. There is speculation that Eric Wright will be fired once this suspension hits, I disagree. Talib had MULTIPLE chances, this is Wright’s first screw up. However, I believe Schiano will have him on severe probation after his suspension is up. Might even put him on a curfew like this guy… http://espn.go.com/dallas/nfl/story/_/id/8586222/dez-bryant-dallas-cowboys-gets-approval-past-midnight The dude has Momma issues.
2. Close… but not really
The Bucs and the Raiders have a good rushing D and they both have horrible passing Ds. However, the Bucs have the 6th best rushing D in the league (pretty impressive when you consider the injuries to the Bucs 2 starting D-Ends) and the Raiders have the 11th. I.e. – the Bucs allow around 84 yards a game, the Raiders allow over 100 ypg. The Raiders Pass D is better, but the Bucs have played against better QBs this year. The Raiders D allows about 50 yards less through the air a game, but the Raiders haven’t had to play Drew Brees, RGIII, or Eli Manning either. The Buc’s D will step up to the challenge this game and force at least 2 turnovers.
3. Doug Martin vs Darren McFadden
It is not a question, but a statement. Josh Freeman will substantially outperform Carson Palmer. So, let’s take a look at the running game. Last weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs, Darren McFadden had his best game of 2012. D-Mac had more runs of over 10 yards in that game than he had in the entire season up to that point combined. This is very similar to the all-star game Muscle Hamster (Martin) had against the Minnesota Vikings. The Raiders game has been lacking and very up and down this year, the Buc’s have gotten progressively better at running the football each week. The Bucs have to D-Up and play hard agaisnt McFadden if they want to ensure a victory in Oakland. Allowing him to gain 3-4 yards a carry and/or break a big one could potentially open up the passing game for the Raiderzzzz. The Bucs are going to have to punish D-Mac everytime he gets a touch and practice ball control with Martin. If this happens, the Bucs cruise for the easy win.
Bucs – 35
Raiders – 17
About the Author
Written by Daniel Stewart
I have worshiped Buccaneer football since the age I was collecting Pokemon cards.