The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cruised to a 21-point lead at Philadelphia in week six without appearing to break much of a sweat. Although Philadelphia came back, there was never a sense that the Buccaneers would fall. Tom Brady engineered a final drive to run out the clock and the Buccaneers won 28-22 to improve to 5-1 on the season.
Offensively, the Buccaneers are first in the league in passing yards, third in total yards and third in scoring, averaging 32.5 points per game. Tom Brady looks as sharp as ever at age 44, having completed nearly 69 percent of his passes for 2034 yards and 17 touchdowns. A great offensive line has allowed him to take advantage of his slew of weapons. Eight different players have at least one touchdown receiving. Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Chris Godwin have combined for 94 catches, nearly 1250 yards and 10 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and O.J. Howard have added to the mix. On the ground, Leonard Fournette has been solid, rushing for 332 yards and 4.3 per carry.
Clearly the strength of the defense has been against the run, where the Buccaneers are allowing a league low 54.8 yards per game. Opponents have been able to take advantage of Tampa Bay’s injury-riddled secondary which has allowed 280 yards per game and 14 touchdowns. On a positive, the Buccaneers have 12 sacks, led by Shaquil Barrett’s 4. They have also been very adept at creating turnovers, having intercepted seven passes. Mike Edwards has two of those interceptions and has returned both for touchdowns.
Special Teams Have Been Special
Special teams have also been very solid. Kicker Ryan Succop is 7-of-9, with his only flaw, a missed field goal between 30 and 39 yards. The other miss was a long attempt beyond 50. Punter Bradley Pinion has force seven fair catches and nine of his 20 punts inside the 20-yard line.
In the NFL standings, the Buccaneers are one of seven teams with one loss and only the Cardinals have a better record. Tampa Bay sits first in the NFC South ahead of the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints at 3-2, and the Atlanta Falcons at 2-3.
Looking ahead, the Buccaneers return home to face the Bears and head on the road to face the Saints before heading into the bye week. Three of the first four games following the bye week are on the road against the Washington, Indianapolis, and Atlanta with a home game against the Giants. The toughest game remaining is potentially at home against the Buffalo Bills on December 12. The Buccaneers also have two remaining games against the Panthers, one against the Saints, and one on the road against the lowly Jets.
Tampa Bay seemingly can score at will against anyone in the league and have overcome significant secondary weaknesses. The only thing that can derail their success is injuries to the offense and particularly, Tom Brady. There is no reason to believe that a healthy Brady can led the Buccaneers deep into the post season and a shot at a repeat Super Bowl title. In fact, Tampa Bay and Buffalo are the odds on favorites to meet in the Super Bowl.