The Homestretch Begins
And just like that week 13 is upon us and the homestretch has begun. Amongst a whirlwind of injuries, fraud accusations and COVID protocol violations the Bucs play the Falcons this week and are facing a favorable stretch of the schedule to finish the season. So that is what I will focus on- as we all should. Whatever happened, however it happened the penalties have been levied and energy should be put towards what this team has ahead of them the next 6 weeks. Let’s not kid ourselves thinking these are the only men in the NFL that have brought forward vaccination cards that could be brought into suspicion.
Coming off what could be the Bucs signature win for the season the team makes the short trip to Atlanta for week 13. The Bucs will face the Falcons who are 1-2 in their last 3 games, being outscored 24-82 over that stretch. A win Sunday would be 3 in a row for the Bucs and complete a season sweep of the Falcons. However, to accomplish this task the Bucs first need to figure out who’s in the lineup and who’s out.
As of now, the Buccaneers will be without returner Jaelon Darden, safety Jordan Whitehead, and of course safety Mike Edwards. Prior to his suspension Antonio Brown was listed as doubtful and not expected to play this week or next. He’ll now get an extra week of rest. Missing two bodies in the secondary Andrew Adams and Ross Cockrell will be slotted for more action this week. Both will likely mix in at the safety position. I would expect to see Cockrell there in pass scenarios and Adams in run or dime packages.
This however could be impacted by the status of Jamel Dean. Although he has been listed as a full participant all week, he is listed as questionable for Sunday. This is likely due to receiving treatment on his shoulder throughout the week. Overall even missing Mike Edwards from the lineup the Bucs have a chance to field a solid secondary this weekend.
You may have noticed a lack of roman numerals in the missing players. That’s because the Bucs have activated Carlton Davis III from the IR. This is huge news for the Buccaneers as they begin December in what is the homestretch of the season. Davis has missed the field and made it clear he’s ready to go when he spoke with media, “I’m good to go right now, 75 plays let’s do it.”. Davis is an elite defender and the prospects of having him in the lineup alongside Sean Murphy-Bunting cannot be overstated.
Ali Marpet is another Buccaneer the team will get back from injury this week. Both backups played well in his place however Marpet is a pro-bowl level guard, and the Bucs will be thrilled that he is back. Devin White was in and out of the lineup against the Colts. However, after finishing the week as a full participant baring an injury in warmup White will be a full go. The Buccaneers are beginning to round into form and it’s exciting to see. The timely return of impact players as the homestretch is beginning will advance this team greatly.
The Task Ahead
All things considered, if the Buccaneers continue their game plan from their 2 previous games Sunday should result in a win for the krewe. Albeit the safety position will be a hurdle when tasked with handling unicorns like Kyle Pitts. However, the Bucs have done won in positions like this before. Just last week the Bucs forced the Colts to give up the idea of running the ball by the 2nd quarter.
The addition of Rob Gronkowski back to the lineup has been huge for the Buccaneers on offense. Most teams don’t have the luxury the Buccaneers have with 2 elite receivers like Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, factor in Gronkowski, and the Bucs have a 3rd elite pass catcher with a seemingly telepathic connection with his Quarterback. AJ Terrell has been rising for the Falcons however he won’t be enough to save them from this passing attack. Sprinkle in a little Leonard FOURnette and the Bucs should cruise past the Falcons as the homestretch begins.