Nothing at stake for Bucs except a title. A playoff game. A legacy.
Staff, 2022-12-26 20:02:56,
TAMPA — One more win, and perceptions change.
One more win, and records fall. One more win, and the story of 2022 is rewritten.
So, do you think the Bucs have it in them?
Because Sunday’s NFC South showdown against the Panthers is setting up as the most monumental regular-season game Tampa Bay has played in years.
Beat Carolina, and the Bucs are in the playoffs. Fall to Carolina, and Tampa Bay will finish with a losing record in one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
But that’s just the start of the dominos. Consider the potential implications:
• Does a division title and a postseason appearance guarantee Todd Bowles will be back as the head coach in 2023 after an inconsistent and uninspired first season? The Glazers once fired Tony Dungy after a third consecutive playoff berth so there are no guarantees, but you gotta think Bowles’ chances are a lot better with a January postseason game at Raymond James Stadium.
• Does a strong finish change the calculation for Tom Brady in 2023? I find it hard to believe he’ll be back in a Bucs uniform next season, but even that slim chance is likely predicated on what would be a record 20th playoff appearance. If the Bucs lose to Carolina and are watching the postseason on TV, you can immediately start looking for the Brady retirement and/or free-agency rumors on Google alerts.
• Does the lure of the postseason convince Rob Gronkowski that he really is bored? Can you imagine how his future legend will be…
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