The Buccaneers sit one victory away from the NFC Championship game. After recording their first playoff victory in eighteen years, the team faces divisional foe New Orleans for the third time in five months. The first time these teams have met in the postseason. Why should Bucs faithful expect this third meeting to be a charm?
Not The Same Buccaneers
Throw out week one altogether. Five minutes after Tom Brady walked into the wrong house looking for the Buccaneers playbook, the team was opening the season against the New Orleans Saints. During a normal season, which 2020 was anything but, victory may have been a big ask.
You can also forget that week nine affair in which the Saints came to Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers were at the tail end of impossibility. Having traveled to Las Vegas two weeks before, for a prime time, Sunday night matchup with the Raiders. Traveling the next week to New York against the Giants on Monday Night Football.
Coming home that week to play the Saints that Sunday night. The fourth prime time game in five weeks. Talk about emotionally spent. The Saints faced a Buccaneers team that was in the throws of a brutal schedule. Still searching for a consistent offensive identity. The Bucs were caught flat-footed. This is no longer the case.
Reason For Hope
The Buccaneers team that will travel to New Orleans this week is not the same team the Saints have seen twice this year. The cast of characters may be the same. But the situational dialogue will be completely different. Since the bye week the first week of December, the Bucs have won five games in a row. With a playoff victory now under their belt.
The Buccaneers team that dropped two games to the Saints this season was in a completely different space. Searching for an identity. Lack of a preseason. Experiencing more “Prime Time” than Deion Sanders. The Buccaneers have rounded into one of the best teams in the NFL. This will be the case this Sunday in the big east.
Of the eight teams left in the postseason, the Buccaneers stand out. The Saints team is put together well and will be a good test. Well rested, with a taste now of postseason victory, this Buccaneers team is hungry for more.