Cast The Negativity Aside, The Bucs Are Back-To-Back Division Champs

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Enough with the negativity. No reason to think about the playoffs on this first week back to the office. Let’s just enjoy the fact that, as predicted, the Bucs have won the NFC South for consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history.

Offensive Clinic

Pretty sweet way to do it, too. Tampa Bay took down the Panthers 30-24 Sunday afternoon, in an offensive clinic put on by Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and this entire offensive line.

It took them long enough to break through and have a stellar game like this. To the chagrin of fantasy team owners everywhere, Evans waited to have a monster game that could earn him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, racking up 207 yards receiving and a trio of TDs in a game where he secured his ninth consecutive thousand-yard season, inching ever closer to Jerry Rice’s record of doing it 11 straight seasons.

Holiday Turnovers 

My disappointing fantasy football end aside, this was quite a performance for the Bucs. They created turnovers defensively (three to be exact). The biggest coming on an Anthony Nelson strip sack in the fourth quarter that essentially clinched the victory.

The offense finally remembered how to push the ball down the field, with Evans’ three touchdown catches all being of the 30-plus-yard variety. Godwin had an ugly fumble in the first drive of the game, but other than that, the Bucs played turnover-free football.

Sunday saw a truly remarkable turn of events when you look at Tampa Bay’s previous performances this season. Again, not looking at this in a broad context where we all get excited about thinking of the Bucs as Super Bowl contenders, it was a really fun Sunday.

Making My Job Harder

I am even having difficulty finding ways to criticize the team. The Bucs won the NFC South, they’re on their way to the playoffs, and they have a game to mess around and do whatever they want next week against the Falcons.

With no route to getting anything but the fourth seed, there’s no incentive to win next Sunday in ATL (the time of the game is set to be announced after Monday Night Football). Tom Brady told the media after yesterday’s win that he’d be upset if head coach Todd Bowles rested him, but the seemingly logical thing would be to rest all starters and just prepare for Dallas (or Philly, as they lost to the Saints Sunday afternoon).

Keeping Momentum 

But perhaps this coaching staff doesn’t want to lose any momentum built from this game. Maybe it lets the offense run out there and continue these good vibes.

Honestly, I see both sides. If the Bucs sit starters, they’ll be criticized if they come out flat come playoff time. If they play their starters and someone gets banged up, then the coaching staff gets blamed for being stupid.

Regardless, it’s a good problem to have. The Bucs are division champs, and all is well in the Tampa Bay football world.

Fire Those Cannons.

This article first appeared on CLTAMPA.COM and is used with permission.

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