The Buccaneers invade merry old England
So the biggest week in Bucpower history is upon us. Its been 25 years in the making but finally our beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be parking their pirate ship on the shores of Great Britain as they roll into town to take on the New England Patriots.
This week is going to be a busy one for all of us lucky enough to be attending the game, whether its doing some long needed exercise for Saturday's Flag Game, doing some pre-drink arm curls for Saturday night's meal or walking around the tailgate party for four minutes before wondering what else to do with the next 5 hours before kick off. It is sure to be a weekend to remember for us all.
For most of us this weekend is so much more than just a game of football, the club is going to have its biggest get together ever and we will be only a matter of metres from our heroes...and Bryon Leftwich. Unfortunately for the Bucs I can't help but think that the thousands of fair weather "Oh they've won the Super Bowl thing I'll say I'm a Patriots fan".
Patriots fans will outnumber us hardy Buccaneer followers as we strive for a first, and surely most unlikely, win of the season. So it won't be like a real home game, no pirate ship, no nice weather and no high percantage of the fans in attendance backing them, but do the Bucs stand any of recording their first win of the season?
Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and co come over the pond fresh off of putting 59 unanswered points on the Titans. Brady threw for 380 yards and 6 touchdowns, this in addition to Laurence Maroney running for 123 yards and a TD.
The Bucs on the other hand are fresh off throwing another one away at home to Carolina in which two running backs went over 100 yards each against our run defense which makes has more holes then your average sponge. Add to that the Buccaneers' tendancy this season to give up BIG pass plays and all the signs point to New England racking up a similar type of score against us this weekend.
On the other side of the ball the Bucs continued to look impressive on early drives and fall away once they abandon the run far too early. Josh Johnson shows moments of Dan Marino like poise in the pocket but at the same time is prone to the same rookie mistakes any quarterback making his 2nd NFL start is going to make.
One thing that does look promising is that the Bucs may have some joy on the ground against the Pats, who gave up nearly 200 yards on the ground against the Titans. Maybe we could see more of Derrick Ward who is warming the bench at present after his big off season move.
Scarily though the Titans only managed negative passing yardage against the Patriots last Sunday, and with the Bucs passing offense not exactly scaring people it is hard to see how the Bucs stay in this game if they go behind early and are forced into passing.
I think the Buccaneers best, and possibly only chance, of getting anywhere near the Pats is to win the turnover battle and for the special team unit to give JJ and the gang great field position. Or better still take two or three kickoffs (of which there are sure to be a few) to the house. No pressure Sammie and Clifton!
If it stays close then the Bucs can run the ball on an ageing Patriots defense, and this is especially true if via turnovers or special teams the Bucs are playing with a short field. However if Brady and co come out and stick 14 unanswered points on the board in the first quarter its going to be a long day and we'll all have read the programme cover to cover (by the way £12? At least Dick Turpin wore a mask!) by the end of the game.
Every possible part of my brain says Pats win something like 50-7 but my Pewter and Red heart says two picks from the Ronde and Talib, a force fumble on Chris Hovan's 3rd sack of the game and JJ rushing for over 100 yards alone Bucs win a shoot out 35-31 in overtime. The pigs are fully fuelled and ready to fly!