Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians doesn’t presume his players can make plans for January yet in the wake of a 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.
The Bucs sliding to 7-4 as the potential No. 6 seed with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) coming to town means a rapidly shrinking margin of error. Arians acknowledged as such in the postgame press conference.
“Very slim,” Arians said, according to WDAE. “This was a big one and the next one [against Kansas City on Sunday] is even bigger.”
WDAE also reported that the Bucs’ 4-4 record against NFC teams is also a big factor in their playoff hopes in terms of tiebreakers for seeding. The Tampa radio station also reported that the Bucs’ first-round matchup would be at Green Bay (7-3) if the playoffs started Tuesday.
Tampa Times reporter Rick Stroud noted that the Bucs have four of their final six regular season games at home but challenges await. He added that the Minnesota Vikings (4-6) and Detroit Lions (4-6), which the Bucs face in December, still have playoff hopes. The Bears sit at 5-5 and beat the Bucs earlier in the season.
Beating teams with a winning record still stands as a big challenge for the Bucs. Tampa has only two wins against teams with winning records this season, according to USA Today via the Associated Press. NFL.com’s Jelani Scott noted the Bucs have a 2-4 record overall against teams with records of .500 or better.
Issues aside, the Bucs still control their playoff destiny as The Athletic’s Greg Auman noted via Twitter.
Bucs definitely control their playoff chances, as it relates to making the playoffs. Win out, they're in. Lose one, the Bears would have to win out for Bucs not to make it in. Lose two, it's more complicated but certainly possible if not still likely. https://t.co/U8S9YrGb4J
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) November 24, 2020
Bucs 1-2 with Brown
Antonio Brown has made multiple highlight-worthy catches since joining the Bucs, including a sideline grab against the Rams on Monday night.
.@AB84 with the footwork 👀
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 24, 2020
What the Bucs haven’t been able to do with Brown on the field is winning consistently. The Bucs dipped to 1-2 since Brown first took the field. They were 6-2 amid a three-game winning streak before Brown joined as a free agent Oct. 23 despite ongoing off-field troubles.
He has 18 catches for 157 yards but no TDs in three games. With the addition of Brown and all of the talented skill players around Tom Brady, the Bucs quarterback has five TDs and five interceptions in the past three weeks. He also had a quarterback rating below 70 in two of those three contests.
Primetime Woes Continue
Tampa fell to 1-3 in primetime games this season with the loss to the Rams, and it nearly could have been 0-4.
The Bucs fell 20-19 to the Bears on Thursday Night Football in Week 5 and rallied late to win 25-23 against the New York Giants (3-7) on Monday Night Football in Week 8. Then, the Bucs flatlined on Sunday Night Football in Week 9, a 38-3 beatdown by the New Orleans Saints.
While the Bucs made strides in Monday’s game against the Rams, two Brady interceptions spoiled the Bucs’ chances in the loss. That’s all after the extra effort of practicing at night a couple of times to get ready for the game.
“Everybody’s disappointed,” Arians said in the postgame press conference, per CBS Sports. “We played a game that we just didn’t make quite enough plays to win. Everybody’s ready to play. I mean, we just played a good football team, but we didn’t make enough plays to win.”