Meaningless encounters
The Bucs have a meaningless game this weekend. Aside from making the obvious gag about every season finale during the 1980s and early 1990s being the same, the one defining irrelevant game in Tampa history was the 2001 game with the Eagles.

The two teams were going to play the following week in the Wild Card game, so the nationally televised Week 16 match-up became the most inane game in NFL history. And to think I stayed up until 5.15am here in the UK to watch it all live.

Pro Bowl snubs
My Tampa Tribune colleague Roy Cummings (who admitted in an e-mail yesterday that he liked Rick Astley's "Never gonna give you up") has made enough of a case for at least one Buc defender to have made the Pro Bowl team in his latest midweek analysis. But every team has players who believe they should have been selected for the Hawaii party.

The one thing I cannot understand on the selection process is that 11 (yes eleven) Cowboys were selected and no Bucs or Jaguars. Anyone would think it was a popularity contest based on the most televised teams.

Time to shut up the '72 Dolphins
One thing to savour about the Patriots' bid for immortality against the Giants this week - can you imagine all the unopened champagne in the houses of the 1972 Dolphins' players when they realise their annual 15 minutes of fame has gone out of the window forever?

Belichick might be a cheat but this Patriots' team is the best I have ever seen and that includes the 1985 Bears. I really hope they pull of their undefeated season, and if the Bucs don't win the Super Bowl, then I hope New England does.

Wild predictions
It is always nice at this time of the year, to look back at everyone's predictions that were made four months ago. Like "Jeff Garcia is a bust", "Gaines Adams is a bust", "Donald Penn will be a disaster" - all of which were heard by Ian Beckles' ever-decreasing audience on WDAE620 (memo to Ian, try sticking to an opinion for more than two days in the future - otherwise you just look ridiculous).

A few Pro Football Weekly writers had the Bucs down to win the NFC South by taking advantage of the relatively easy schedule and Jeff Garcia's experience. And associate editor Nolan Nawrocki was seriously using his crystal ball when he came out with "Bobby Petrino may be looking for ways to pull a Saban by season end". I would go on record on saying how accurate I was but I had the Bucs down for 5-11. Oh well, we all make mistakes as R2-D2 said climbing off the trash can.

Paul Stewart, December 2007