The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been hyped up a fair bit heading into the 2017 NFL season. Their participation in the HBO series “Hard Knocks” certainly added to their interest, but many have seen that Tampa Bay has been on the rise since the arrival of Jameis Winston in 2015. The public was delayed in seeing their season debut because of Hurricane Irma, pushing back their scheduled Week 1 game. With the first game jitters out of the way, we are now entering Week 3 of the NFL. Is it finally time to take this Bucs team as a serious division title contender?
By looking at the result of last week against the Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay showed some intriguing things. It was a decisive win, where the Buccaneers found themselves up 26-0 at halftime. Albeit against a weaker team in the Bears, a result like this after missing out on Week 1 displays their poise and focus was on point. All the distractions and possible disadvantages of having off the first week of the season didn’t show. On offense, Jameis Winston played a smart game, not producing the biggest numbers, but importantly avoiding any turnovers. This is the biggest aspect of Winston’s game that the team is looking to seem improved this year. Jacquizz Rodgers stepped up in Doug Martin’s absence, while receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson lead the way on the outside. As for the defense, they were able to grab two interceptions, giving up only a single touchdown on the day. Overall, there weren’t many things to disappointed with in the team’s performance
But this is a new week, and it will bring a much tougher matchup. This Sunday, the Bucs will travel to Minnesota to play a Vikings team that’s coming off a bad loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But this is a team that plays really well at home, especially on the defensive side. The defense for the Vikings will be largely healthy, unlike on offense, where starting quarterback Sam Bradford has been ruled out with a knee injury. While this is a large boost for the hopes of Tampa Bay sealing a victory, Minnesota’s defense can’t be overlooked. They also have plenty of weapons offensively to still make things interesting, like receiver Stefon Diggs and rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Case Keenum is a worthy backup, and with the home supporters, could make the game interesting.
When looking at the importance of this game, though, it all comes down to Jameis Winston and this Buccaneers team. They’re out to prove that this is the year that they win the division and make a playoff appearance. If that’s truly the case, then this is a game Winston must win and should be expected of himself. The franchise quarterback now has two full seasons under his belt and is looking to show he has matured into the upper tier of quarterbacks across the league. While this came should be close to most analysts, the Bucs must go to Minnesota and win for them to be considered a serious threat in the NFC this season.
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