The underwhelming Buccaneers couldn’t ask for a better schedule ahead.
With three weeks left in the regular season, the only teams between the 6-8 Bucs and the postseason are led by Trace McSorley, Sam Darnold and Desmond Ridder — that’s the Cardinals (4-10), Panthers (5-9) and Falcons (5-9) if you’re unfamiliar.
Statement wins over the three weaklings could provide a much-needed confidence boost for the struggling Bucs ahead of the playoffs, where they’d kick off at home by securing the NFC South.
Losses could put them where they seemingly belong: watching the playoffs from their couches.
The Bucs’ banged-up defense should feast on the inexperienced quarterbacks. McSorley will be making his debut on Sunday, Ridder will be on his fourth start when he visits in January and Darnold has struggled since entering the league in 2018.
Nonetheless, Tampa Bay captain Devin White, who’s shouldered his fair share of ridicule this season, says they can’t afford to get ahead of themselves. The Bucs have overlooked their opponents in the past, resulting in losses to the Steelers and Panthers.
“You got to handle the game that’s in front of you,” White said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “It ain’t just going to be no walk-in.”
Taking advantage of these matchups is going to be vital for the team that have suffered humiliating losses the past two weeks, with a blowout to the 49ers and a 17-point-lead choke against the Bengals.
“It’s like we can’t get out of our own way,” tight end Cameron Brate said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “For the whole team, it’s embarrassing.”