The Bucs take on the 49ers in Tampa on Sunday. This game isn’t being talked about on a national scale. It’s not in anybody’s SuperContest picks. Nobody wants to mention anything other than “The Buccaneers change Quarterbacks every week”. “Koetter has one foot out the door”. Whilst with the 49ers it’s all about “what could have been had it not been for injuries”.
But here is why this game has significant implications for both teams, whilst focusing mostly on Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers, whilst 3-7, are playing for their future. Many of these players are playing for new contracts and a place in the 53 next season. Koetter will almost 100% leave his post and Jason Licht, unfortunately, might follow suit.
Jameis Winston, the starter for this Week 12 clash after winning this week’s highest dice roll contest against Ryan Fitzpatrick, is playing for a 1 year $21.5 million contract next season and for his potential future in the league. He is on pace for the highest interception percentage of his career. Even if he doesn’t throw another one in 28 attempts a game, every game, for the entire season, it will still be higher. The one win for the season has come against the Cleveland Browns! He looks a fraction of the Franchise Quarterback, Number 1 pick that was taken in the 2015 draft.
Receivers Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson (Although if you saw the last play last week, he clearly doesn’t care) are playing for their 2019 roster spot, or for a spot on another 53. Cameron Brate, is fighting to get a larger share of targets next season and eat into O.J Howards share in 2019. Peyton Barber is a Free Agent in 2019 and he is playing for a new contract, either with the Bucs or elsewhere also.
On the other side of the ball, Grimes will be leaving at the end of the season, and some of these young DB’s are playing for their futures also. So is Gerald McCoy, who is not producing the numbers his huge contract is required for him to make. The Buccaneers defence is historically bad and it will be ripped up by a new coaching staff next season.
So the one thing I could expect, from a team heading to last place in the NFC South for the 7th time in the last 9 seasons, is that they play for themselves and the fans. These players haven’t looked void of fight, but there is apathy creeping in at an alarming rate as this team has lost 7 of their last 8 games.
But to do that, they have to play a 49ers team with every motivation to win. Super Bowl winning, Hall of Famer Safety John Lynch, the current General Manager of the 49ers, is not in the business of doing his old team any favours. The team has been decimated with injures and, just like last season, they have seen their season nosedive off a cliff very early and very quickly. The optimism of August and challenging the Rams for the Division is well and truly extinguished and rightfully so. But this team has talent. Matt Brieda and George Kittle have emerged as potential All Pros. Kyle Shanahan’s team also play a lot of close games
There is signs of promise and life but it’s the same as 2017. The 49ers do have their Franchise Quarterback locked down, but this team needs pieces. This franchise is playing to show potential Free Agents why they should buy into the 49ers in 2019. John Lynch and company cannot afford to get blown out in any of their remaining games. A win against the league’s worst defence is just the tonic this team doctor will ordered.
So yes, it doesn’t have the sexy glamour matchup of a Chiefs vs Rams matchup on a Monday night, but this game has just the same importance, maybe even more importance, as the outcome of this game could have severe repercussions on some of the players playing in the game for years to come.
Ignore the records of these teams, ignore the fact it’s a “dead rubber” and watch two teams with plenty to lose, if not necessarily anything to gain in the short team, play their hearts out and put on a show. I see this one having points, action, and some quality performances. This game has all the ingredients required to hammer the 54 point over. There is just the one final question to be answered… will it deliver like the Thanksgiving Turkey did on Thursday?
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