By Tom Krasniqi
It’s been a rocky 2013 for the Bucs. The season has been marred by a 0-8 start, a quarterback change and plenty of heartbreakers. There is one more game to go and for the Bucs, it’s a chance to finish off the season on a positive note.
The season comes to an end for the 4-11 Bucs when visit the 10-5 Saints Sunday in New Orleans. For the Saints, this game means everything. They need a win to clinch a playoff spot and they still have a chance to win the NFC South if Carolina loses at Atlanta.
While the Bucs aren’t playing for the postseason, there’s still a lot riding on this one. It’s an opportunity to finish strong and play spoiler. It could also be the last chance for head coach Greg Schiano to make a case to keep his job.
“Like I said earlier in the week, the atmosphere will be a playoff atmosphere,” Schiano said after Thursday’s practice.
Schiano and the Bucs know they will face an angry Saints team that’s coming off a heartbreaking loss at Carolina last week. The playoff scenarios are crazy to the point where the Saints have a chance to win the NFC South and get the #2 seed—or be out of the playoffs altogether if they lose and the Cardinals win. One thing is for certain—the Saints are treating it like a playoff game.
“They have an opportunity not to go to the playoffs if they lose, not that it’s necessarily for sure but they can…..we don’t get to go to the playoffs this year,” Schiano said. “We need to finish this season the right way. Why? Because we get 16 chances to play and this is one of them.”
The Saints are much different team at home, where they’re 7-0. New Orleans averages 32.9 points per game at home.
“Man, they’re going to come out firing on all cylinders,” middle linebacker Mason Foster told me on Thursday. “Drew Brees is going to be on fire. They’re at home—big time game. It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere. We’re going to get the best Saints [team].”
The Bucs are struggling to score points on offense and the Saints are explosive at home. It’s not a good combination. It is the holiday season and it would seem the Bucs will need a Christmas Miracle to pull off a victory on Sunday.
As for the Thursday injury report, Schiano said linebacker Dekoda Watson (groin) did not practice again. Safety Mark Barron (hamstring) was limited and Schiano says it will be a game-time decision on Sunday.
For the Saints, the big news on the injury front is that QB Drew Brees (knee) was upgraded to a full practice on Thursday. Brees was limited in Wednesday’s practice. Other notable injuries: WR Marques Colston (back), G Jahri Evans (knee) and RB Pierre Thomas (eye) also practiced in full.
News & Notes:
- Bucs CB Darrelle Revis says moves must be made after the season: "I do believe we need to change some things in the offseason as we move forward as players and coaches.” Revis is hoping that he is asked for some input in regards to possible changes.
- Schiano says Ted Larsen is likely to start at left guard ahead of Jamon Meredith this week. William Gholston is also scheduled to start at defensive end on Sunday.
- Chalk up another one: DE Da’Quan Bowers (knee) was placed on injured reserve on Thursday. He becomes the 16th player to go on IR this season. Schiano says Bowers had minor surgery on that knee and he should have a short rehab. The Bucs signed DL Scott Solomon, who was a 7th round pick of the Titans back in 2012. Solomon played one game with the Jets this season.
- Bucs DT Gerald McCoy has 9 sacks and needs one more to become the third defensive tackle in team history to record double-digit sacks in a season. Warren Sapp did it three times (1997, 1999 & 2000) and Santana Dotson recorded 10 sacks back in 1992.
- Bucs QB Mike Glennon has 14 TDs and 5 INTs in his past 10 games.
- Bucs TE Tim Wright leads all rookie tight ends in receptions (49) and yards (513). He’s second behind Detroit’s Joseph Fauria in touchdowns with 4.
- Saints QB Drew Brees has won 4 straight against the Bucs with a QB rating of 104.
- The Bucs are 27th in the NFL with 45 sacks allowed. The Saints are 4th in the league with 47 sacks. Protecting Glennon could be a problem again this week.
- This Sunday, the 4-11 Bucs close out their season when they visit the 10-5 New Orleans Saints. You can catch the game on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM with our coverage beginning at 12pm with Countdown to Kickoff.
- For the latest Bucs news, keep it locked all day long on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM, your home of the Bucs and the best Bucs coverage. Don’t forget to check out the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the latest news and audio clips.