Buccaneers’ Todd Bowles Issues Strong Warning for Week 18

Todd Bowles (left) and Baker Mayfield. The Buccaneers need one more win to secure a spot in the NFL playoffs.

Getty Todd Bowles (left) and Baker Mayfield. The Buccaneers need one more win to secure a spot in the NFL playoffs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles is in a tricky position. On one hand, he has his team in line to make an NFL playoff appearance, a notion that would have seemed near impossible back when the team lost six out of seven games and had fallen to 4-7. On the other hand, while the Buccaneers can control their own destiny, they’re not out of the woods just yet—they still have to beat the Panthers in Carolina to earn their place in the NFL playoffs.

So Bowles has a message for the Buccaneers: Don’t take the Panthers lightly, even with their 2-14 record.

“Our thing is we can’t beat ourselves,” Bowles said on Monday at his press conference. “We don’t care if they were 14-2. In the NFL anybody can beat anybody any given week, and division games are always tough. We have to play our game, make less mistakes, and then we’ll worry about the opponent on Sunday. If we can do that, we will have a chance to win.”

Buccaneers Must Move on to Earn Spot in NFL Playoffs

The Buccaneers came out surprisingly flat against the Saints on Sunday, with a chance to clinch the NFC South crown at home on the line. Tampa Bay was scoreless through three quarters before finally rallying with a strong fourth quarter. They came up short, though, and lost, 23-13.

If there was a bad taste in the mouths of the Buccaneers, Bowles suggested they get rid of it quickly. There is a spot in the NFL playoffs on the line for the Bucs, and a likely matchup against the struggling Eagles in the offing.

“I mean, that’s any game. This one will be easy to get out of,” Bowles said. “We lost what three or four in a row and got out of that one. This one was hard because it was trying to clinch the division, but you [have] another chance to clinch it this week and we can’t worry about what happened yesterday. We will correct, move on, and get ready for Sunday.”

Baker Mayfield to Play on Sunday

Bowles said he does expect to have quarterback Baker Mayfield ready for Sunday, despite taking another battering on Sunday from the Saints. Mayfield is dealing with a rib injury, but is on track to make his 17th start for the Buccaneers, giving him the rare NFL accomplishment of starting every game at quarterback for a team.

Mayfield will have extra motivation to win on Sunday. He has already made $1 million in playing-time incentives this year, and will make an extra $250,000 per win in the NFL playoffs.

But, hey, at this time of year, with as much on the line as the Bucs have, there is no added motivation needed.

“Our motivation is to get in [the NFL playoffs],” Bowles said. “We won four out of five. We did a hell of a job winning four out of five, and [if] we win five out of six, we get in. That’s the reality of it. Winning six in a row would have been outstanding, winning five out of six isn’t bad either. We’ve just got to buckle down and win the last one.”

Read More